After years of sitting on the sidelines and refusing to enforce measures against fringe—or even dangerous—political views, Facebook has announced that it will now be clamping down on Holocaust denial content and removing it.
Fringe groups across the political spectrum, ranging from both White and Black racial supremacists, have actively used Facebook as a primary platform for the dissemination and propagation of anti-Semitic views. Facebook announced on Monday that it is updating its hate speech policy to prohibit “any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.”
In a statement, Facebook noted that its ban on anti-Semitic hate speech is a part of its ongoing effort to remove extremist content on the platform. “We have banned more than 250 white supremacist organisations and updated our policies to address militia groups and QAnon." The statement went on to note that it banned 22.5 million pieces of content in the second quarter of the year.
“Following a year of consultation with external experts, we recently banned anti-Semitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions,” wrote Monika Bickert, Facebook’s VP of Content Policy.
“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,” the statement read. “According to a recent survey of adults in the US aged 18-39, almost a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure.”
Facebook cited a survey on the Holocaust knowledge of American millennials and Gen Z in New York, commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. As detailed by the New York Post in September, the survey found that 60 percent of respondents were unaware of the extent of murders during the Holocaust. Nearly 20 percent said they believed Jews caused the Holocaust.
To combat these fringe views, Facebook said it will direct anyone to credible information off Facebook should they search for terms associated with Holocaust or its denial later this year.
Facebook stated that it arrived at its decision following ongoing conversations with groups like the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee, as well as organizations focused on protecting Jewish communities in the UK. The platform is also working with the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“Enforcement of these policies cannot happen overnight. There is a range of content that can violate these policies, and it will take some time to train our reviewers and systems on enforcement. We are grateful to many partners for their input and candor as we work to keep our platform safe,” stated Facebook.