Facebook will now ban Holocaust denial content that “denies or distorts the Holocaust.”
The move comes after the social media giant was called out by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign. The initiative was launched by several groups including Common Sense Media, the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League. Hundreds of other corporations soon followed suit and pledged to end their advertising on Facebook-owned platforms in an effort to pressure the company into taking action against hate speech and misinformation being spread across its site. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apparently felt the heat and responded with the ban on Monday.
The controversial CEO said that he “struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust,” before adding, “My own thinking has evolved as I’ve seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence, as have our wider policies on hate speech. Drawing the right lines between what is and isn’t acceptable speech isn’t straightforward, but with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance.”
The policy change was based on the “well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people,” according to Facebook’s VP of content policy, Monika Bickert. In her blog post, also released on Monday, she also made sure to confirm that Facebook has banned anti-Semitic stereotypes “about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions.”
Advocacy groups have praised the company for cleansing its platform of the harmful content. The World Jewish Congress president Ronald S. Lauder called Holocaust denial a form of hate speech.
“By taking the critical step to remove Holocaust denial content, Facebook is showing that it recognizes Holocaust denial for what it truly is: a form of anti-Semitism and therefore hate speech,” Lauder said in a statement.
While the Anti-Defamation League has been pleading with Facebook since 2011 to denounce Holocaust denial as hate speech, CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said that he is pleased with their decision that will surely have a positive outcome.
“Whatever forces led Facebook to make this decision, we believe it will have a positive impact on the experience of Jewish users on their platform. While we are relieved to learn this news, we also would note that platform decisions of this nature are only as good as the companies’ enforcement. Facebook now needs to reassure the global community that it is taking meaningful and comprehensive steps to ensure that Holocaust deniers are no longer able to take advantage of Facebook’s various platforms to spread anti-Semitism and hate.”
Bickert added that Facebook will soon begin redirecting users who search for Holocaust denial information to “credible information.”