Facebook will block posts that deny the Holocaust after CEO Mark Zuckerberg, aged 36, announced on Monday that his “thinking has evolved.”
“Today we are updating our hate speech policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust,” the social media giant said in a note today. “Following a year of consultation with external experts, we recently banned anti-Semitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions. Today’s announcement marks another step in our effort to fight hate on our services.”
Having previously defended people’s right to question on his gigantic website, accessed by billions of netizens, whether the eradication of millions of Jews and other minorities actually happened, Zuckerberg added in a personal missive that he felt a ban on denying the genocide was the “right balance” between free expression and… we’re not sure – humanity?
“I've struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust,” said the Zuck, who was raised Jewish. “My own thinking has evolved as I've seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence.”
It is possible other “data” contributed to the decision. Such as the recent Congressional report that argued for breaking up Facebook and highlighted its role in spreading misinformation as justification for bringing antitrust actions against the company.
Or polling “data” that shows Donald Trump is likely to lose the upcoming election and so lift political pressure on Facebook to not touch provably false or misleading statements. Another data point is growing legislative pressure to remove Section 230 legal protections from platforms like Facebook in response to its refusal to deal with rampant misinformation.
A further data point is a recent campaign built around the hashtag #NoDenyingIt in which Holocaust survivors specifically targeted Facebook’s willingness to host such content and posted a different video every day in order to exert pressure.
And then there’s the fact that Facebook’s constant delays in establishing an oversight board that it promised a year ago has resulted in the launch a group calling itself “The Real Facebook Oversight Board” which has garnered a lot of press attention for highlighting Facebook’s failure to deal with misinformation and the impact that has had. Facebook forced that board's website offline over a trademark issue: the group's domain name included the word "facebook."
Previously, Zuckerberg claimed that removing Holocaust-denying posts was “too extreme.” He said in an interview in 2018 with respect to the issue: “If we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that.” He also argued that “the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech.”
In another highly principled stance, Facebook also said this month it would block accounts that continually push the notion that specific famous politicians and actors are involved in a global conspiracy to kidnap and sexually abuse children, for which there is not an iota of evidence.
Such claims would never be published on any other moderated platform because they are false and highly defamatory. ®