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Facebook, in reversal, will ban posts denying Holocaust

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is shown during a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in 2018.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, shown at a House Energy and Commerce hearing on Capitol Hill in 2018, had said users should be able to make up their minds about the truth of the Holocaust. He has changed that policy.
(Andrew Harnik / AP)

Facebook Inc. will ban posts that deny the Holocaust in a reversal of a long-held and controversial policy.

Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has been lobbied by civil rights groups such as the Anti-Defamation League to make the change, said he is concerned about the “current state of the world” and hate-based violence.

“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 said in a Facebook post. “My own thinking has evolved as I’ve seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence.”

Facebook said its decision was supported by the documented evidence of a rise in anti-Semitism globally and “the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people.”

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According to a recent survey of adults ages 18 to 39 in the U.S., almost a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure, Facebook’s head of content policy, Monika Bickert, said in a separate post. The Holocaust was the murder of 6 million Jews by the Nazis and their allies during World War II.

Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the ADL, said he has pushed Facebook to make the change for years. It’s “a big deal,” Greenblatt wrote on Twitter. “Glad it finally happened.”

Zuckerberg was highly criticized in 2018 after he used the Holocaust as an example of denialism that may be wrong but should be permitted to exist on Facebook.

“I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong,” Zuckerberg said in an interview with Kara Swisher at Recode. Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, quickly apologized, saying he personally finds “Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that,” he said at the time.

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Facebook said Monday that beginning later this year it will direct people looking for terms associated with the Holocaust or its denial to credible information outside of Facebook.

The new policy doesn’t apply to the denial of other genocides, such as the Armenian or Rwandan genocides — only the Holocaust, Facebook said.


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