Facebook finally decides to ban negationism

In a statement released Monday, the social network said it would now ban content denying the reality of the Shoah.

Facebook continues to change its rules regarding hateful content. On Monday, the social network said it would now "withdraw" denialist publications. "Today, we are updating our hate speech regulations to prohibit any content that denies or presents a distorted view of the Holocaust," said a signed statement from Monika Bickert, vice president of content policy. “Soon this year, we'll be directing anyone looking for words associated with the Holocaust or Holocaust denial to credible information outside of Facebook,” she adds.

In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg's views on the subject of denial had sparked a heated debate. In an interview with the Recode website, he said: “I am Jewish, and there is a group of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But in the end, I don't think our platform should rule that out, because I think there are things people get wrong. I do not think they are misunderstanding on purpose but ... "The founder of Facebook had then explained in an email to the site:" I personally find the negationism deeply offensive and I absolutely did not want to justify the intentions of those who take part. "

A problem known for years

Facebook has long been the subject of criticism for its tolerance of denial. In 2009, denounced for having delayed in deleting certain pages dedicated to this anti-Semitic theory, the social network had defended the right to debate. A spokesperson for the company, quoted by on a CNET blog, had explained that "of course we abhor Nazi ideas and find denial disgusting and silly." “However, we believe that people have a right to discuss these ideas and we want Facebook to be a place where ideas, even controversial ideas, can be discussed. Of course, we have certain limits, ”added the spokesperson.

More than a decade later, last July, the Anti-defamation league (ADL), an American organization dedicated to the fight against anti-Semitism and racism, painted an unflattering picture of negationism on Facebook. Quoting several pages with sometimes limpid titles - like "Holocaust Revisionism", a group counting 1900 members - the ADL had reported the content of the exchanges circulating on these pages: comments and images violently anti-Semitic, abundance of comments denying the humanity of the Jews or extolling the merits of Adolf Hitler ... “Due to Facebook's refusal to consider Holocaust denial as anti-Semitic discourse, this rhetoric appears all over the platform, including in public and private groups dedicated specifically to this subject. And although some of these groups claim that they are forums for "objective discussion" of the Holocaust and that outright Holocaust denial is prohibited there, a study by the ADL clearly found explicit denial, as well as hateful and conspiratorial anti-Semitism often associated with this philosophy, ”pointed out the organization.

"Today's announcement marks a new step in our effort to combat hate on our services," said the message posted Monday by Facebook. “Our decision is based on the rise in well-established anti-Semitism globally and the worrying level of ignorance about the Holocaust, particularly among young people. According to a recent survey of adults in the United States between the ages of 18 and 39, almost a quarter said they thought the Holocaust was a myth, that it was exaggerated, or that they did not know for sure ” , notes the press release.

Facebook has increased in recent weeks, the measures to counter problematic content, after having resisted for a long time. “We have banned over 250 white supremacist organizations and updated our regulations to take into account paramilitary groups and [conspiracy theory] QAnon. We routinely ban other individuals and organizations around the world, and we removed 22.5 million items of hate speech in the second quarter of this year. After a year of consultation with outside experts, we recently banned anti-Semitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that portray them as masters of the world or of its important institutions, ”Facebook said in its Monday post.

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