Mark Zuckerberg’s disturbing naivete

Mark Zuckerberg, one of the founders of Facebook, needs to rethink his position that Holocaust deniers should be permitted to post their false and scurrilous material on his social networking platform.

Several days ago, in an interview with the tech news site Recode, Zuckerberg said that while he would not remove a post denying the Holocaust, Facebook would push that post so far down as to consign it to oblivion.

That was the good news.

The bad news is that Zuckerberg won’t revise his disturbing view that Facebook is open to Holocaust deniers.

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” he said. “I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”

And he added, “I don’t think they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”

Balderdash! Can Zuckerberg be so astonishingly naive?

Holocaust deniers are antisemites at heart and know exactly what they’re doing. In their obsessive quest to belittle and demean Jews, they mangle, twist and distort a unique historical event out of all recognition, or attempt erase it altogether from the annals of mankind.

To these disgusting propagandists, the Holocaust — the greatest and most documented crime against humanity in modern history — is either a vastly exaggerated case of mass death by disease or a shameless fabrication constructed by a nasty cabal of Jews. However seemingly persuasive their arguments may sound at times, they essentially boil down to antisemitism packaged in relatively new wrapping.

As the distinguished historian Deborah Lipstadt correctly observed, Zuckerberg’s incredible notion that Holocaust denial is unintentional is completely “ludicrous.”

Non-governmental entities such as Facebook, she said, should not be posting Holocaust denial claims. “Freedom of the press means the press should be free of government control. It does not mean that the press or social media platforms have to provide space for deniers.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, made the same argument: “Holocaust denial is a wilful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by antisemites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful and threatening to Jews. Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination. ADL will continue to challenge Facebook on this position and call on it to regard Holocaust denial as a violation of their community guidelines.”

Facebook’s guidelines, published a few months ago, ban hate speech on the grounds that “it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence.” Holocaust denial, however, was excluded from that definition because Holocaust deniers allegedly do not engage in “violent or dehumanzing speech,” refrain from issuing statements inferring inferiority, or call for “exclusion or segregation.”

In fact, the deniers commit egregious offences that speak to these infractions directly or indirectly. Facebook in general and Zuckerberg in particular are strangely blind to these outrages.

Facebook, though, denies Holocaust deniers access to its platforms in nations like Germany, where Holocaust denial is illegal. Monika Bickert, the head of Facebook’s department of global policy, explained the distinction recently. “Something might be illegal in 10 countries, but if only two countries say, ‘This is important to us, it’s illegal, remove it,’ we will do it. And if the others don’t, we will not remove it.”

Since Holocaust denial is not generally considered a criminal offence in Western countries, one can safely conclude that deniers are free to pursue their activities and have nothing to fear from Facebook.

A pity and a shame.

About the Author
Sheldon Kirshner is a journalist in Toronto. He writes at his online journal,