Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has refused to back down after claiming that Holocaust denial did not constitute hate speech under Facebook’s so-called “community standards”.
In an interview with Recode on Tuesday, Mr Zuckerberg said, unprompted, that Holocaust deniers should be permitted to post their views on Facebook, going on to say: “I don’t think they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”
Facebook’s community standards state: “We define hate speech as a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics – race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity and serious disability or disease.” It would therefore appear that Mr Zuckerberg does not consider Holocaust denial to be hate speech.
The German Justice Minister, Katarina Barley, was scathing, saying: “There must be no place for antisemitism. This includes verbal and physical attacks on Jews as well as the denial of the Holocaust.”
In response, on Wednesday Mr Zuckerberg attempted to clarify his comments. In an e-mail to Recode, he wrote, “I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.” It therefore appears that Mr Zuckerberg truly wishes to suggest that Holocaust denial is not hate speech. His remarks are deeply irresponsible. At a time when misinformation is spread seemingly unabated, and young people in Britain and the United States have a woeful lack of knowledge about the Holocaust, a prominent leader like Mr Zuckerberg has a responsibility to clearly state that Holocaust denial is a form of antisemitic hatred.
There is no such thing as benign Holocaust denial. It is solely a means of inciting hatred against Jews by claiming that we fabricated the genocide of our people to extort money in the form of reparations. It is utterly abusive and Mr Zuckerberg must take responsibility for excising it from Facebook.