In October 2020, Facebook announced an update to their hate speech policy that, in their words, “prohibits any content that denies or distorts the events of the Holocaust.” Facebook’s goal was not only to keep Holocaust denial off their platform but to fight anti-Semitism, specifically widely known Jewish stereotypes. For example, Jews have too much power, Jews are greedy, and Jews are disloyal.
This year, in the wake of Holocaust Remembrance Day, when we remember the six million Jews and other persecuted groups who were murdered in ghettos and concentration camps, Facebook has improved its hate policy to provide users with accurate information about the Holocaust.
Now, when a user does a search on Facebook for anything having to do with the Holocaust or Holocaust denial, they will get a message directing them to a source of reliable information about the Holocaust off of Facebook. Facebook says they’re doing this to honor the victims of the Holocaust, and to do their part to make sure that terrible chapter of our history never happens again.
“We’re taking these steps given the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people,” Facebook said in a statement. “We want to help our community learn about the events that led to the Holocaust and the genocide of one-third of the Jewish people.”
Last year, the U.S. Millennial Holocaust Knowledge and Awareness Survey revealed that a whopping 63% of Millenials and Gen Zers didn’t know that six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. 48% couldn’t name a single concentration camp or ghetto (even though there were over 40,000 of them). And most alarmingly, 11% of survey respondents believed the Jews caused the Holocaust.
Facebook’s Failing Grade?
According to USA TODAY, Holocaust denial content continues to pop up on Facebook. And this is months after CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed that his company would make a concerted effort to eliminate that content.
The Anti-Defamation League has released a report in which they gave Facebook a “D” for the work it has done so far. The ADL’s CEO, Jonathan Greenblatt, said Facebook and other social media platforms are “still struggling to address anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial effectively.”
The ADL’s report says Facebook did not take down a post promoting an anti-Semitic video that claims to reveal “lies” about the Holocaust, as well as a Facebook group for Holocaust deniers called “Holocaust Revisionism.” Facebook removed that content when they got a call from USA TODAY, but they took issue with the ADL’s report.
“We don’t agree – we’ve made major progress in fighting Holocaust denial on Facebook by implementing a new policy prohibiting it and enforcing against these hateful lies in every country around the world,” Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever told USA TODAY. “We are reviewing the content mentioned in this report and will continue working to keep Holocaust denial off of our platform.”