Facebook announced today that it will ban content that “denies or distorts the Holocaust.” In a blog post titled “Removing Holocaust Denial,” VP of Content Policy Monika Bickert explains the company’s decision to bar such content, though she does not say what constitutes a “distortion” of the Holocaust.
After reminding us that Facebook has recently banned QAnon from the platform and boasting that “we also routinely ban other individuals and organizations globally,” Bickert cites an increase in antisemitism and an “alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust” as the main factors behind its tightening of the censorship vise.
Under the new policy, users searching for Holocaust content will be directed by Facebook to a source the company regards as reliable.
“Institutions focused on Holocaust research and remembrance … have noted that Holocaust education is also a key component in combatting anti-Semitism,” Bickert writes. “Beginning later this year, we will direct anyone to credible information off Facebook if they search for terms associated with the Holocaust or its denial on our platform.”
Back in 2018, when Facebook still paid lip service to free speech, CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued that it would be wrongheaded to censor Holocaust denial.
“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” Zuckerberg said on the Recode Decode podcast. “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.”
The principle of free speech is pretty simple: either you support free speech for everyone (including, and especially, people whose views you find disgusting), or you don’t support free speech at all.
Facebook clearly falls into the latter category. And before you try the “it’s not real censorship because Facebook is a private company” angle, consider that Facebook works with the Atlantic Council to judge which content is impermissible. Click here to see a list of the Atlantic Council’s financial contributors; included are the US State Department and NATO, among many other wholesome actors.