- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg took harsh criticism on Wednesday after saying that the social network won’t ban Holocaust deniers from Facebook.
- Zuckberg said that, although he finds Holocaust denialism deeply offensive, it’s not Facebook’s job to prevent anyone from saying something false, but rather to combat fake news and misinformation that’s spread maliciously.
- The Anti-Defamation League tweeted that Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow Holocaust deniers to spread their ideas on the platform.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced resounding criticism on Wednesday after saying that the social network wouldn’t ban people from Facebook for denying the Holocaust.
In a podcast interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained that he wouldn’t ban Holocaust deniers from the platform because it’s not Facebook’s job to prevent anyone from saying something false – it’s more focused on stopping misinformation campaigns and other malicious activity.
“I find [Holocaust denialism] deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong,” Zuckerberg told Swisher.
In a follow up email to Swisher, which she published in full, Zuckerberg further defended his statements, saying that while Facebook won’t ban users over it, that kind of content gets demoted in the News Feed so fewer people see it.
“Our goal with fake news is not to prevent anyone from saying something untrue – but to stop fake news and misinformation spreading across our services,” the email reads. “If something is spreading and is rated false by fact checkers, it would lose the vast majority of its distribution in News Feed.”
Soon after the transcript of the interview was published, the backlash started. The Anti-Defamation League tweeted a statement from CEO Jonathan Greenblatt that Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow Holocaust deniers to spread their ideas on the platform.
“Holocaust denial is a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful, and threatening to Jews,” the statement reads.
Greenblat wasn’t alone, with many taking to Twitter and elsewhere to express their concern over Zuckerberg’s remarks. It comes as Facebook’s approach to content moderation has come under scrutiny, as the social network works to clarify what is and isn’t allowed on the platform as it continues to combat fake news – raising questions over Facebook’s role in the spreading of information.
What Mark Zuckerberg needs to understand the intent of Holocaust deniers is not the sole proper standard of judgment. We can debate limits to free expression, but It's the impact that matters greatly, not just intent https://t.co/yCj2wibhxc
— Mitch Kapor (@mkapor) July 18, 2018
There is a difference between providing a platform for free expression and knowingly spreading false information and lies. Social media gives us an opportunity for discussion, but with responsibility for not causing harm. Denying the Holocaust causes harm. https://t.co/mDF6Pftijd
— Anne Frank Center (@AnneFrankCenter) July 18, 2018
This is what gets me. Zuckerberg has been largely radio silent since Cambridge Analytica.
His first major media event since, and he just blurts out “Holocaust deniers don’t have bad intent.”
This wasn’t a mistatement. Facebook leadership just fundamentally has no moral compass.
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) July 19, 2018
So Mark Zuckerberg won't ban Holocaust denying white supremacists from facebook, because he wants to give them a voice? Black people have been telling the world for YEARS that facebook has become a safe haven for online white supremacists (while Black ppl are constantly banned)
— Tariq Nasheed (@tariqnasheed) July 18, 2018
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) July 18, 2018
Holocaust deniers are malicious, violent, and mean exactly what they say. They deny the genocide of six million Jews and others, including five of my family members.
For Mark Zuckerberg, one of the most powerful men in the world, to cut them slack is despicable.
— marisa kabas (@MarisaKabas) July 18, 2018
He can keep it as a safe space for racists and the insane, and normal people can shut down their accounts and leave. https://t.co/hyg8D0RDwl
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) July 18, 2018
My general point that no one should be doing the filtering of news for 2.1 billion people. But Mark Zuckerberg defending the sincerity of Holocaust deniers suggests that we may have picked the single worst person to do what is an impossible job. pic.twitter.com/j3GELcn0w4
— Matt Stoller (@matthewstoller) July 18, 2018