Facebook Says Holocaust Denial Shouldn’t Be Banned

In an interview with the technology news website Recode, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, had remarked that Holocaust Deniers may be “deeply offensive” but can’t be banned owing to the principles of freedom of speech. This decisive action has been taken despite efforts by The Anti-Defamation League Task Force on Internet Hate to persuade Facebook that Holocaust Denial is in fact a form of ‘hate speech’. In 2017, Facebook’s internal documents were leaked and implied their company’s hesitation in banning posts of hate speech. The business must understand how disastrous Holocaust Denial can prove to be and rectify their actions accordingly.

Zuckerberg Defends Holocaust Deniers

Though Mark Zuckerberg claims that Holocaust Deniers are simply exercising their freedom, as the few supporters of Holocaust Deniers do, one must question whether such a right is being exercised from a place of informed and positive intent. First, it is significant to note that Holocaust Deniers dissent from the minute details regarding, say statistics. Instead, they insist that the suffering of Jews never occurred, that millions weren’t killed at the hands of Germans, and that the Holocaust was just a fabrication by the Jews to gain global sympathy. Unsurprisingly, they have no valid evidence to support their claims.

Professor Lipstadt v Holocaust Denier Irving

Take the example of Deborah Lipstadt, a professor who was sued by Holocaust Denier David Irving, back in 1996 in England after labeling the latter as a denier. She swayed the verdict in her favour by proving that every claim made by Irving regarding the Holocaust was false. It proved a huge setback to the Deniers as a group, for it proved that Holocaust Denial was not about people sharing their opinion, but “people outright lying about the history“.

Holocaust Denial Is Hate Speech

This distinct lack of valid proof extends to the entire community of Deniers. They believe the considerable historical evidence – an amalgamation of the efforts of various historians as well memoirs written by several Jews – can all be proven false if they prove any one fact of the Holocaust to be false. Their assertion of its falsehood in the face of overwhelming evidence leads scholars across the world to believe that they have to come from a place of hatred. In fact, Holocaust Denial has also been labelled as the “new antisemitism” for its unscientific and inhumane approach to history.

From Thoughts To Words To Actions

Social media sites like Facebook allow Deniers to reach out to a larger number of people at a much faster rate. Moreover, not only do such sites influence gullible minds, but they also reinforce the Deniers’ conviction in their beliefs. This can prove to be extremely dangerous, as shown in history. Take the example of Benjamin Smith, arguably the most infamous Denier. In 1999, he had gone on a killing spree, which led to the death of two people and the harm of several others. Not only did his thoughts transform into action, but he was quoted as saying, “It wasn’t really ‘til I got on the Internet, read some literature of these groups that… it really all came together.” Ergo, the internet played a significant role, and perhaps presented itself to be the final trigger, in giving Smith the motivation to take such drastic measures. In fact, most Deniers who have acted on their belief, killing and injuring people, have been linked to an online hate group or site. In fact, a decade later, James von Brunn murdered a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC before he was taken down. He too heavily invested in online hate for years and it inevitably led him down the path of bloodshed.

Facebook Is Silent And Thus Guilty

The corporation itself had acknowledged that its policies have a significant impact on the global perception of the freedom of speech. It allows its users to reach out to people from all over the world, in groups that may be public or private. While such services are used for the greater good, they are also being wielded to spread hatred. In such a scenario, it becomes Facebook’s responsibility to ensure its users are not using it for the latter. By hiding behind the curtain of the right to freedom of speech, they are only acting as facilitators for the Deniers and their cause. Passive bystanders are just as guilty as the bullies themselves! They must take action against Holocaust Denial.

What The Social Media Giant Must Do

Facebook employs third parties to identify hate speech on the internet and so a similar approach can be taken for Holocaust Deniers. Any material, be it photographs or information, must be removed from the site after being fact-checked. While most particulars proclaimed by Deniers in their defense have been proven wrong, in the case that new facts turn up, the group or page can be monitored until the validity of the details are proven. If any page dares to call for action in favor of the Deniers in the form of violence, it should immediately be taken down, and the actors must be prosecuted. Deniers should not be allowed to preach their “pseudoscience” irrespective of whether the platform is public or private. If certain groups seem to be on the borderline, they can also be monitored. Facebook should most definitely encourage its users to report any such malicious posts or persons they happen to come across, and such tips should be responded to at the earliest.

The Deniers are using a warped version of “freedom of speech” to try and justify depriving Holocaust sufferers of the acknowledgment of their hardships. They are violating the sanctity of such a freedom and must be stopped. It comes down to the very humanity of standing by and defending the victims despite the threat of opposition and Facebook must be reminded of this!

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