After years of criticism of his policies, the Facebook rules now expressly prohibit content that denies or falsifies the truth about the Holocaust.
The company’s decision – the latest in a series of new guidelines aimed at eliminating misinformation from its feeds – is based on a “rise in anti-Semitism worldwide” and an “alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people”. Facebook vp of the content policy Monika Bickert said.
Beginning later this year, the platform will direct users searching for keywords related to the Holocaust to “credible information” outside the platform. The company did not specify which sources to direct users to.
Bickert cited a recent poll conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which found that 25% of adults in the United States, ages 18-39, believed the Holocaust was fictional or exaggerated – or they weren’t for sure.
Facebook said it worked with the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee on this new policy, among others. In particular, there was no mention of the prominent civil rights group Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish group that has heavily criticized Facebook’s policies on hate speech.
The ADL and its CEO Jonathan Greenblatt spearheaded a large-scale boycott of Facebook by advertisers this summer, dubbed the Stop Hate for Profit movement. Greenblatt also recently worked with a group called the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a coalition of external critics who are unhappy with the way Facebook is holding itself accountable.
In a post on his own profile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company had previously “removed posts praising hate crimes or mass murder, including the Holocaust,” but felt a need to broaden its policies due to rising anti-Semitism.
“I struggle with the tension between advocating free speech and the damage caused by minimizing or rejecting the horrors of the Holocaust,” Zuckerberg wrote. “My own thinking has evolved as I’ve seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence, as well as our broader policies on hate speech. Drawing the right lines between acceptable and unacceptable language is not easy, but given the current state of the world, I believe that this is the right balance. “
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, who is Jewish like Zuckerberg, wrote that the decision after the recent Jewish holidays of Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simchat Torah had “special meaning” to her.
Zuckerberg previously defended letting Holocaust deniers have a voice on its platform.
“I find that deeply offensive,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with Recode in 2018. “But at the end of the day, I don’t think our platform should tear that down because I think there are things that different people are doing wrong . I don’t think they get it wrong on purpose. “A day after the interview, he made it clear that he“ absolutely did not want to defend ”Holocaust deniers.