Facebook updates hate speech policy to ban Holocaust denial content

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on October 13, 2020 Published on October 13, 2020

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s VP of Content Policy, said the company had been taking various efforts in removing content targeting specific groups across the world   -  REUTERS

Social media major had removed 22.5 million pieces of hate speech from its platform in Q2

Facebook has updated its hate speech policy to ban content denying or distorting the Holocaust.

“Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people,” wrote Monika Bickert, VP of Content Policy, in a blog post.

Bickert further said that the social media giant had been taking various efforts in removing content targeting specific groups across the world and had removed 22.5 million pieces of hate speech from the platform in the second quarter of this year.

Rising anti-semitism

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, announcing the policy update in a Facebook post said that the updated policy is based on data showing a rise in anti-Semitic violence.

“We've long taken down posts that praise hate crimes or mass murder, including the Holocaust. But with rising anti-Semitism, we’re expanding our policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust as well. If people search for the Holocaust on Facebook, we’ll start directing you to authoritative sources to get accurate information,” wrote Zuckerberg.

Facebook has faced increased criticism in the past in how it handles Holocaust denial content. A report by the the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), a UK-based counter-extremism group, earlier this year stated that the social media major’s algorithm “actively promotes” Holocaust denial content. Zuckerberg in the past had expressed hesitation in removing content denying the event.

‘The right balance’

“I've struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust. 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,” Zuckerberg wrote in the post.

Facebook also recently banned “anti-Semitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions”.

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Published on October 13, 2020
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