Facebook updates hate speech policy to ban Holocaust denial

Oct. 12 (UPI) — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Monday that the company will update its hate speech policy to ban Holocaust denial.

Zuckerberg made the announcement in a Facebook post.

“We’ve taken down posts that praise hate crimes or mass murder, including the Holocaust. But with rising anti-Semitism, we’re expanding our policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust as well,” the post read. “If people search for the Holocaust on Facebook, we’ll start directing you to authoritative sources to get accurate information.”

The update reverses Facebook’s earlier policy on the issue.

In 2018, Zuckerberg said in a Recode Decode podcast interview that the social media company does not want to ban Holocaust denial posts because people should be able to make unintentional mistakes.

“I don’t think they’re intentionally getting it wrong,” Zuckerberg said on the podcast at the time.

Facebook Vice President of Content Policy Monika Bickert released a statement on the policy change.

“Today’s announcement marks another step in our effort to fight hate on our services,” Bickert said in the statement. “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.”

Bickert added enforcement of the updated policy wouldn’t happen overnight since it takes time “to train our reviewers and systems on enforcement.”

Bickert also said that online attacks against many groups are increasing worldwide, according to organizations that study trends in hate speech, and that Facebook has taken several steps to remove such content.

Among those steps, Facebook has banned more than 250 white supremacist organizations

Facebook, in a reversal, will now ban Holocaust denial content under its hate speech policy

Facebook this morning announced a significant change in how it approaches Holocaust denial content on its social network. For years, the company has been criticized for not taking down this extremely offensive form of content in favor of allowing free speech and distancing itself from taking on the responsibilities of a traditional publisher. Today, it’s reversing that position, saying it will now update its hate speech policy to “prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.”

The company said it made the decision amid a growing number of online hate speech attacks and is a part of Facebook’s newer efforts to fight the spread of hate speech across its platform.

“We have banned more than 250 white supremacist organizations and updated our policies to address militia groups and QAnon,” explained Facebook in an announcement. “We also routinely ban other individuals and organizations globally, and we took down 22.5 million pieces of hate speech from our platform in the second quarter of this year. Following a year of consultation with external experts, we recently banned anti-Semitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions,” the company said.

Facebook also shared some disturbing statistics representative of how its inaction on this front has impacted the world. It said that according to a recent survey of U.S. adults, ages 18-39, nearly a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or that they weren’t sure.

The company noted, too, that institutions focused on Holocaust research and remembrance, such as Yad Vashem have stressed that Holocaust education is a key component in combating anti-Semitism.

As many may recall, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg once used Holocaust denial as an example of where he thought Facebook shouldn’t intervene with

Pakistan’s the latest country to ban China-owned app TikTok

Illustration for article titled Pakistan Is Also Doing the Ban TikTok Challenge

Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)

Pakistan officials have announced a ban on TikTok after receiving complaints of unlawful content on the popular short-form video-sharing app. It’s the latest country to block the app after India instituted a similar ban and the U.S. attempted to do the same because of a squabble over who owns TikTok’s American business, which is currently the Beijing-based Bytedance.

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said in a statement Friday that it came to the decision after TikTok failed to censor “immoral and indecent” content on its platform, the Associated Press reports. After receiving several complaints and petitions calling for the app to be banned, the authority gave TikTok a final warning in July to meet its guidelines and take down unlawful content (the Muslim-majority country has several media regulations intended to preserve conservative values), which the company purportedly failed to do.

“We have been asking them repeatedly to put in place an effective mechanism for blocking immoral and indecent content,” an official involved in the decision told Reuters.

The ban may not be permanent though; the PTA said in Friday’s statement that it’s “open for engagement” with TikTok and would review its decision should the company beef up its content moderation systems. The dating apps Tinder and Grindr also received bans last month over similar issues.

TikTok has become wildly popular all over the world since it launched outside of China in 2017, and Pakistan is no exception. The app reported 20 million monthly active users there and was the country’s third most downloaded app over the last year after WhatsApp and Facebook, a PTA spokesperson told Reuters.

But over the last year or so several countries have begun to push back against several Chinese owned

U.S. appeals judge’s ruling that blocked U.S. ban on TikTok downloads

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government said in a court filing on Thursday it was appealing a judge’s ruling that prevented it from prohibiting new downloads of the Chinese-owned short video-sharing app TikTok.

The Justice Department said it appealed the order to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

In late September, a U.S. judge temporarily blocked a Trump administration order that was set to bar Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google from offering new TikTok downloads.

China’s ByteDance, which owns TikTok, has been under pressure to sell the popular app. The White House contends that TikTok poses national security concerns as personal data collected on 100 million Americans who use the app could be obtained by China’s government. Any deal will also still need to be reviewed by the U.S. government’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Negotiations are under way for Walmart Inc and Oracle Corp to take stakes in a new company, TikTok Global, that would oversee U.S. operations.

But key terms of the deal – including who will have majority ownership – are in dispute. ByteDance has also said any deal will need to be approved by China. Beijing has revised its list of technologies subject to export bans in a way that gives it a say over any TikTok deal.

(Reporting by Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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Facebook says it will ban QAnon groups

By Barbara Ortutay | Associated Press

OAKLAND — Facebook said it will ban groups that openly support QAnon, the baseless conspiracy theory that paints President Donald Trump as a secret warrior against a supposed child-trafficking ring run by celebrities and “deep state” government officials.

The company said Tuesday that it will remove Facebook pages, groups and Instagram accounts for “representing QAnon” — even if they don’t promote violence. The social network said it will consider a variety of factors to decide if a group meets its criteria for a ban, including its name, the biography or “about” section of the page, and discussions within the page, group or Instagram account.

Mentions of QAnon in a group focused on a different subject won’t necessarily lead to a ban, Facebook said. Administrators of banned groups will have their personal accounts disabled as well.

Less than two months ago, Facebook said it would stop promoting the group and its adherents, although it faltered with spotty enforcement. It said it would only remove QAnon groups if they promote violence. That is no longer the case.

The company said it started to enforce the policy Tuesday but cautioned that it “will take time and will continue in the coming days and weeks.”

The QAnon phenomenon has sprawled across a patchwork of secret Facebook groups, Twitter accounts and YouTube videos in recent years. QAnon has been linked to real-world violence such as criminal reports of kidnapping and dangerous claims that the coronavirus is a hoax.

But the conspiracy theory has also seeped into mainstream politics. Several Republican running for Congress this year are QAnon-friendly.

By the time Facebook and other social media companies began enforcing — however limited — policies against QAnon, critics said it was largely too late. Reddit, which began banning QAnon groups in