Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Monday the popular platform will ban any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust, citing a rise in in anti-Semitism.
“I’ve struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust,” Zuckerberg wrote. “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,” he continued in the announcement.
Prior to the announcement, Facebook removed posts that praised hate crimes and mass murder, which includes the Holocaust, according to the Associated Press (AP). However, the new policy will reportedly prohibit content that denies or distorts the Holocaust and will instead redirect users to “authoritative sources to get accurate information.”
The move comes after Holocaust survivors around the world launched the #NoDenyingIt Campaign in July which posted one video per day urging Zuckerberg to remove Holocaust-denying groups, pages and posts as hate speech, according to the AP.
At the time, Facebook told the AP that they “take down any posts that celebrate, defends, or attempts to justify the Holocaust,” along with content that “mocks Holocaust victims, accuses victims of lying about the atrocities, spews hate, or advocates for violence against Jewish people in any way.” Facebook added that posts that deny the Holocaust are often removed anyway since they tend to violate one of the aforementioned standards. (RELATED: Study: Facebook Recommends Holocaust Denial Content)
Zuckerberg has been pressured in the past to take a hard stance against Holocaust denial. In 2018 during an interview with Recode, Zuckerberg — who is Jewish — said that while he finds Holocaust denial “deeply offensive,” removing the content all together could cause issue if the posts are not calling for harm or violence.
“At the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that [Holocaust denial content] down because I think there are things that different people get wrong,” he told Recode. “I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong, but I think…as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly…and I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, ‘We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.'”
Zuckerberg later clarified that he finds “Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.”
A recent survey conducted by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also known as the Claims Conference, showed 36% of respondents under the age of 39 believed the total death count of the Holocaust was less than 2 million, and more than 60% of respondents were unaware that 6 million Jews were systemically murdered.
More than 6 million people died in Nazi concentration camps. Prior to the Holocaust, there were more than 9 million Jews living in Europe. By 1945, two out of three European Jews had been killed.