In reversal, Facebook bans Holocaust denial content

Facebook updated its hate speech policy Monday to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust, a move that had long been called for by Jewish organizations and survivors of the Nazi genocide.

In addition to the new ban, anyone searching for Holocaust posts on the platform will now be directed to “authoritative sources to get accurate information,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who admitted that his “own thinking has involved” as he sees data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence around the world.

“I’ve struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust,” he said in a Facebook post Monday morning. “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.”

The announcement comes amid growing pressure for social media platforms to do more against misinformation and dangerous conspiracy theories ahead of the November elections. Facebook has recently taken down pages and content connected to white supremacy and QAnon, for instance, but critics say the company’s actions fall far short of preventing hate speech to spread across the platform.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany coordinated a recent campaign, dubbed #NoDenyingIt, that featured multiple videos from Holocaust survivors imploring Facebook to remove posts denying the deadliest genocide of the 20th century.

“Survivors spoke! Facebook listened,” the New York-based group wrote in a tweet Monday.

In addition to an increase in anti-Semitic violence around the world, social media also appears to have exacerbated a shocking level of ignorance about the genocide.

An alarming survey released last month found that almost two-thirds of young American adults don’t know that 6 million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Another 23% of survey respondents said they either believed the Holocaust was a myth or an exaggeration or weren’t sure.

The Anti-Defamation League also took to Twitter to celebrate the long-awaited ban.

“This has been years in the making,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the organization’s CEO. “Having personally engaged with @Facebook on the issue, I can attest the ban on Holocaust Denial is a big deal … Glad it finally happened.”

Facebook, however, warned that enforcement of the new 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,” Monika Bickert, the company’s vice president of content policy, said in a blog post.

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