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Mark Zuckerberg, kick Holocaust denial off Facebook now

The social media giant has ignored requests to get rid of this hate speech. Will it finally respond to anguished pleas from survivors themselves?

Holocaust survivors have a simple message for Mark Zuckerberg: Holocaust denial IS hate speech and needs to be removed from Facebook! There is no denying their suffering and loss; there is no denying the Holocaust. Beginning today, the Claims Conference will be posting videos, across our social media platforms, from the witnesses to the event that resulted in the death of 6 million Jews, and 11 million people overall. From around the world, these survivors have partnered with the Claims Conference in creating videos explaining that Holocaust denial is hate speech, and, in accordance with Facebook’s own community guidelines, they are insisting Mark Zuckerberg remove hateful posts denying one of largest human tragedies in the HISTORY of mankind. The Holocaust ended 75 years ago. There is no denying it happened – there are witnesses. Please share their videos; Facebook needs to remove Holocaust denial from Facebook! #NoDenyingIt

Posted by Claims Conference (Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany) on Tuesday, July 28, 2020

The years long conversation between human rights organizations and Facebook about removing hate speech from its platform is reaching another fever pitch. As the dialogue catches fire yet again, Holocaust survivors around the world are asking Mark Zuckerberg to take one, seemingly simple action – remove Holocaust deniers from Facebook.

A few weeks ago, an independent audit focused on the state of civil rights at Facebook painted a sad picture: “Unfortunately, in our view Facebook’s approach to civil rights remains too reactive and piecemeal. Many in the civil rights community have become disheartened, frustrated and angry after years of engagement where they implored the company to do more to advance equality and fight discrimination, while also safeguarding free expression.”

In 2018, Holocaust survivors posted an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg explaining the deep hurt that Holocaust denial brings to those who suffered the worst of humanity during the Holocaust and survived. As a result of the video posted on the Claims Conference Facebook page, a meeting was held at Facebook and lip service was paid. Unfortunately, no action was taken and Holocaust deniers continue to enjoy uninterrupted platforms spreading their hateful rhetoric.

Holocaust denial is not ignorance or a lack of education – it is an intentional, woeful act of hatred. The attempted extermination of Jews from Europe is one of the most researched and well-documented historical atrocities of our collective human history, supported by first-hand testimonies from Jews, historians and the Nazis themselves. Holocaust denial is anti-Semitic and only serves to generate more hatred. More importantly, anti-Semitism is hate speech, intended to incite violence and inflict emotional distress and therefore is a violation of Facebook’s own community standards and poorly enforced hate speech policies.

In November 2019, Facebook announced that they were removing significantly more “hate speech” from the platform than ever before, saying that 80% of the hate speech being detected was identified through a new application of artificial intelligence rather than by individuals. The press announcement boasted that, in the third quarter of 2019, these measures helped remove over seven million instances of hate speech, a 59% increase from the previous quarter.

Seven million instances of hate speech being removed seems like a big number until you consider that it is a tiny fraction of the 30 million posts per day Facebook’s 2.5 billion monthly users share. By all accounts, the “updated algorithm” and advanced application of artificial intelligence has removed just a small fraction of hate speech on the platform.

in Europe where Holocaust denial is illegal, Facebook has no problem removing the hateful rhetoric from their platform. In the US, Holocaust deniers are able to post hateful speech calling into question the well documented events of World War II – every post erasing further the memory of the six million individuals, 1.5 million of them children, who were murdered during the Holocaust for the crime of being born Jewish.

This is not just a Holocaust survivor issue or even a Jewish issue. Facebook has long provided a platform for fringe groups to post hate against people of various races and economic standing, gender identifications and sexual orientations. Groups like the Anti-Defamation League, Color of Change, the NAACP and the Claims Conference have been pleading with Mark Zuckerberg and his team to aggressively address this issue and remove disinformation and hate speech for years.

This cannot stand.

We have asked Mark Zuckerberg to meet with Holocaust survivors to hear, directly from them, how painful it is for them that one of the world’s leading companies hosts Holocaust deniers.

This week, we started sharing short videos from Holocaust survivors – one every day – addressed to Mark Zuckerberg demanding that he remove Holocaust deniers from Facebook. We will continue to do this until we see action. You can help us – please follow our hashtag #NoDenyingIt, like and share these posts with your network and help these voices be heard. Let’s show Facebook that we will never forget.

About the Author
Gideon Taylor is the President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and Chair of Operations for the World Jewish Restitution Organization.
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