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Facebook, a safe place for Jew hatred

The world's biggest social platform has stringent rules for what may be posted, but execution is something else.
Belgian police officer Mohamed N.'s anti-Semitic threats on Facebook, under pseudonym Bebeto Gladiateur (screenshot, Facebook)
Belgian police officer Mohamed N.'s anti-Semitic threats on Facebook, under pseudonym Bebeto Gladiateur (screenshot, Facebook)

I am the founder of Shadows of Shoah. As part of our work we operate a Facebook page where we publicise showings of our traveling Holocaust exhibition and share Holocaust survivor stories.

Our work is dedicated to Holocaust memory and to responding to resurgent antisemitism.

From time to time antisemitic comments are posted on our page.  Such was the case last week when someone posted calling for another Hitler to execute genocide against the Jews.

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The comment read:

“I want an other holocaust against these f—–g jews. I wish another Hitler take birth for them. The way these f—–g jews are killing innocent Palestine, oh! I love hitler nd he f—d them very well. Salute to Furer Hitler”

I reported the offending post to Facebook and was advised by email that it did not violate Facebook’s community standards.

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Facebook’s Community Standards are easy to find online and include the following:

Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their:  race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation…

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Earlier this year I travelled from New Zealand to attend the 5th Global Forum For Combatting Antisemitism in Jerusalem. One of the many speakers was Simon Milner, a Policy Director for Facebook.  His response to a question from the floor included the statement:

“[combatting antisemitism] that’s absolutely what we’re determined to do.”

Milner also explained that offensive content reported to Facebook was typically checked by two of Facebook’s staff, in the interests of maintaining consistency.

The full context of Milner’s statements can be viewed online.

In our view, Facebook’s published community standards are commendable, ostensibly committing Facebook to removing hate speech. In addition, Facebook’s representative, speaking at the premier world gathering of scholars, government and institutional leaders directly engaging with antisemitism, declared Facebook’s determination to combat antisemitism.

And yet, explicitly genocidal hate speech against the Jewish people, posted on the Shadows of Shoah Facebook page, was deemed acceptable by Facebook.

Are we to assume that Facebook’s policy on hate speech does not apply when the target of that hatred is the Jewish people?

Are we to conclude that Facebook is a safe place for Jew hatred?

About the Author
A New Zealand photographer and media producer. Perry is the founder of Holocaust and Antisemitism Foundation, Aotearoa New Zealand and creator of Shadows of Shoah. He is also co-founder of The Israel Institute of NZ.
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