The internet allows anybody with a connection to peddle their opinion and, while that’s fine, peddling misinformation is not.
This week both Twitter and Facebook announced that they will be implementing bans on content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.
The ban from Facebook is notable given statements its chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, has uttered in the past.
During an interview in 2018, Zuckerberg argued that folks denying the Holocaust might simply be unintentionally getting it wrong.
“It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is that I get things wrong when I speak publicly,” Zuckerberg said at the time.
But getting it wrong is different from knowingly denying the Holocaust happened or downplaying the repulsive nature of the genocide.
So why is Facebook now changing its mind about Holocaust deniers? Well for one, it’s allowed to but the more important reason is explained by vice president of content policy, Monika Bickert.
“Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people. According to a recent survey of adults in the US aged 18-39, almost a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure, the VP said.
While the ban on Holocaust denial is currently in effect, Facebook says it will take time to train its reviewers and systems as regards enforcement.
That having been said, as The Verge points out, there is no explicit ban in Twitter’s policy (despite two mentions of the Holocaust in the policy) but rather reflects how the firm will apply the Hateful Conduct Policy internally when content is reported.
“We strongly condemn anti-semitism, and hateful conduct has absolutely no place on our service,” the Twitter spokeswoman told Bloomberg, “We also have a robust ‘glorification of violence’ policy in place and take action against content that glorifies or praises historical acts of violence and genocide, including the Holocaust,” Twitter added.
It’s worth remembering that both Twitter and Facebook are private firms and if you aren’t a fan of the policies they implement and the rules you have to play by, you can leave at anytime.