Facebook Finally Bans All Holocaust Denial Content

Facebook, finally enacting a measure long called on by critics, said it will prohibit any content that “denies or distorts the Holocaust.”

The social-media giant made the decision by the “well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s VP of content policy, wrote in a blog post Monday. She noted that Facebook also recently banned anti-Semitic stereotypes “about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions.”

Bickert specifically cited a recent survey of U.S. adults 18-39 that found almost one-fourth said they believed the Holocaust either was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure it actually happened. About 63% of respondents did not know that 6 million Jews were exterminated by the Nazi regime and 36% thought the number was “2 million or fewer” per the survey, commissioned by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

Starting later n 2020, Facebook will direct users who search for terms associated with the Holocaust or its denial to “credible information” from third-party sources, according to Bickert.

Facebook’s announcement that it is banning Holocaust denial content comes after it was targeted by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, launched by groups including the NAACP, Common Sense Media and the Anti-Defamation League. The initiative was joined by hundreds of companies who pledged to suspend advertising on Facebook-owned platforms temporarily, with the goal of spurring the company to more aggressively block hate speech on its services.

To date, Facebook has banned more than 250 white supremacist organizations and last week prohibited all content from groups affiliated with QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy and disinformation movement that has sprung up on the last three years. In the second quarter of 2020, Facebook removed 22.5 million pieces of hate speech from its platform in the second quarter of this year.

People are engaging more on Facebook today with news outlets that routinely publish misinformation than they did before the 2016 election, according to new research from the German Marshall Fund Digital, the digital arm of the public policy think tank. The organization, which has a data partnership with the start-up NewsGuard and the social media analytics firm NewsWhip, published its findings on Monday.

In total, Facebook likes, comments and shares of articles from news outlets that regularly publish falsehoods and misleading content roughly tripled from the third quarter of 2016 to the third quarter of 2020, the group found.

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