In addition to all of it’s privacy-related faults, Facebook has become a breeding ground for hate speech — a vital tool for the stupid to communicate and organize. Though sometimes the staff has seemed overwhelmed, Facebook has, to its credit, taken steps to police and ban anti-gay hate speech, white supremacist groups like the KKK, and Holocaust deniers in the past. But many don’t feel it’s gone nearly far enough.
The latter group, the Holocaust deniers, have been especially difficult to reign in, something that inspired Techcruch founder Michael Arrington — taking into consideration that the site prohibits photos of breast-feeding women — to headline a 2009 post, “Jew Haters Welcome At Facebook, As Long As They Aren’t Lactating.”
The problem, according to Mark Zuckerberg and other Facebook honchos’ past statements, is that they want site “be a place where people can discuss all kinds of ideas, including controversial ones,” up to and including Holocaust denial. Additionally, Facebook has repeatedly cited its intention to hold dear American’s rights of free speech — a Facebook spokesman told the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove today that “we recognize people’s right to be factually wrong about historical events.” And once again, people are pretty pissed off about this.
Reports the Daily Beast:
…the issue bubbled up anew last month when a group of survivors of the Nazi death camps wrote to Facebook asking that the company’s broad-minded policy be reversed. It came up again on Tuesday, when Australian computer scientist Andre Oboler and Canadian lawyer David Matas, co-chairmen of the Global Forum’s Online Anti-Semitism Working Group, released a letter they sent to Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg after they attended what Oboler calls a “frustrating” video conference with an executive of Facebook’s European operations. The Facebook exec politely listened to the group’s concerns, Oboler told me from Melbourne, then reiterated the company line.
“We call on Facebook to abandon its insistence on treating Holocaust denial in a context-free manner, in which it is considered nothing more than the rejection of a historical event,” Oboler and Matas wrote to Zuckerberg. “The context makes it clear that there is no meaningful distinction between Holocaust denial and incitement to hatred against Jews … We ask that Facebook recognize Holocaust denial as a form of hate speech, issue a statement to this effect, and do its utmost to remove Holocaust denial from the Facebook platform.”
In response, a Facebook spokesman told the Daily Beast’s Grove the following: “In practice, we end up removing the vast majority of Holocaust denial content that’s reported to us because it’s explicitly hateful or threatening. Most instances of Holocaust denial on Facebook (or anywhere else) are accompanied by threats or clearly anti-Jewish statements, which run afoul of our policies.remove these as quickly as possible when they’re reported to us, and the result is that there is actually very little of this kind of content on Facebook.”
So Grove went poking around and — what do you know! — he discovered a treasure trove of Holocaust denial Facebook pages…
My cursory investigation of Facebook’s pages, using the search term “Holocaust hoax,” revealed dozens of disturbing and questionable postings that claimed the Jewish genocide was “grossly exaggerated.” One page, titled “Holocaust … History or Hoax,” features a video of a supposed scholar, with a heavy German accent, praising the Third Reich and blaming German Jews for the country’s economic troubles the Nazis fixed, despite “some racist points,” with “an otherwise very beautiful program that was very successful, all in all.”
Another, titled “Everyday Jokes on Holocaust Hoax,” informs readers: “We condemn all forms of racism, and we work to expose Jewish domination and evil Jewish enterprises in the world, which (one must say) constitute the main power of the secular conspiracy.”
Oboler pointed out that Holocaust denial is codified as hate speech and thus against the law in 13 European countries, including Germany and Austria, and that Facebook manages not to violate local ordinances by blocking the various denial pages in the relevant jurisdictions. He said his colleagues, “who have been approaching Facebook with an open mind and in a spirit of cooperation to solve this problem, are becoming increasingly frustrated with Facebook’s irrational stubbornness on this issue and their attempts to blur the issue.”
Now, I can’t figure out which side to side with on this. I mean, I sympathize and understand both sides. But the ultimate irony in all of this, as Grove points out, is that Zuckerberg is Jewish. And the slack-jawed, mouth-breathing Jew-haters on the site probably have no idea that the platform they’re using was designed, created and still operated by a Jew and many of his Jewish friends, who have the ability to monitor their every move online. In addition to irony, there’s some humor to be found in that, I suppose.