Children photographed inside the Auschwitz concentration camp on January 27, 1945. Credit – TASS via Getty Images
Facebook updated its rules on Monday to explicitly ban any content that “denies or distorts” the Holocaust, after years of allowing people to deny that the genocide occurred.
The move reverses Facebook’s previous stance, which was articulated by CEO Mark Zuckerberg in years of interviews as not wanting his company to be an arbiter of truth.
“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that 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,” he told Vox’s Recode in 2018.
Zuckerberg’s position, and Facebook’s, has “evolved” since then, he said in a Facebook post published Monday. “I’ve struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust. My own thinking has evolved as I’ve seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence, as have our wider policies on hate speech.”
“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,” said Facebook’s vice president of content policy, Monika Bickert, in a statement.
Civil rights groups welcomed the news, but questioned Facebook’s timing. “As Facebook finally decides to take a stance against Holocaust denial and distortion, they claim it is because of their work with the Jewish community over the past year,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the Anti Defamation League (ADL), in a statement. “We question this claim because if they had wanted to support the Jewish community,