Facebook will cancel all posts that “deny or distort” the Holocaust committed by the Nazis against Jews, in an additional measure that tightens the rules for modifying content that American societies have long been demanding.
“We have long removed messages calling for hate crimes and mass killings, including the Holocaust,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on his page Monday. “But as anti-Semitism escalates, we will expand our base to include banning any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust as well.”
He noted that users searching for the Holocaust will be redirected to “reliable sources of information.”
In the United States, misrepresentation and exile are not prohibited and case law tends to place it under the First Amendment clause, which guarantees freedom of expression.
“I have struggled with this dilemma, between support for freedom of expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the atrocity of the Holocaust,” said the site’s founder, adding that “my thinking changed when I saw data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence.”
A statement released by Facebook on Monday cited a study stating that nearly a quarter of Americans between the ages of 18 and 39 believe the Holocaust is a “myth” or “exaggerated” or that they are “not sure” that it will happen.
He pointed out that the network has recently banned anti-Semitic stereotypes about Jewish power, which often fall under the framework of conspiracy theories.
In the summer of 2018, Zuckerberg, who is also Jewish, made it clear that he did not want the banishment messages removed from Facebook.
A spokesperson for the site indicated, in July, that the social network will not remove the content “just because it is false.” But Holocaust survivors asked the site’s boss to remove the content of the denial.
The Anti-Defamation League, a US anti-Semitic organization, showed several examples of private groups on Facebook in which users openly questioned the Holocaust. Facebook’s action took “years to crystallize,” Jonathan Greenblatt, president of the Anti-Defamation League, said on Twitter. “After I have personally worked with Facebook on this topic, I can say that prohibiting Holocaust denial is a great thing (…) I am happy to have this,” he added.
His NGO, along with other civil society organizations, led this summer an advertising boycott of the social network, to which hundreds of companies responded, to force them to better monitor “hate” content.