Bulgarian Jews welcome Facebook’s decision to prohibit Holocaust denial and distortion

The decision announced by Facebook on October 12 to update its hate speech policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust is great news in the fight against the spread of hate speech online, the president of the Organization of the Jews in Bulgaria “Shalom”, Associate Professor Alexander Oscar said.

The move will inevitably support the efforts of the Jewish communities around the world to combat the rise of xenophobia in societies, he said.

Announcing the decision, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s VP of Content Policy, said that organisations that study trends in hate speech are reporting increases in online attacks against many groups worldwide, “and we continue our efforts to remove it”.

“We have banned more than 250 white supremacist organizations and updated our policies to address militia groups and QAnon. 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,” Bickert said.

Following a year of consultation with external experts, Facebook recently banned antisemitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions, the statement said.

“Today’s announcement marks another step in our effort to fight hate on our services. Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in antisemitism 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 said.

Commenting on Facebook’s announcement, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder said: “By taking the critical step to remove Holocaust denial content, Facebook is showing that it recognizes Holocaust denial for what it truly is – a form of antisemitism and therefore hate speech.

“Denying the Holocaust, trivializing it, minimizing it, is a tool used to spread hatred and false conspiracies about Jews and other minorities. Today’s announcement sends a strong message that Facebook will not allow its platform to be misused to promote hate.

“Throughout the course of World Jewish Congress’ engagement with Facebook, the company has consistently shown an understanding of its responsibility to serve as a positive force and lead by example as the world’s largest social media platform. This decision demonstrates what can happen when we allow ourselves to learn, adapt, and make bold choices,” Lauder said.

The American Jewish Committee (AJC) praised Facebook’s decision to remove all Holocaust denial and distortion posts from the social media platform — and to prevent any such posts in the future under the company’s hate speech policy.

“Facebook’s decision to ban Holocaust denial and distortion postings is profoundly significant,” said AJC CEO David Harris.

“With knowledge of the systematic Nazi murder of six million Jews waning in the United States and around the world, particularly among young people, the power and credibility of Facebook are vital to preserving the facts of the most documented genocide in history, and helping maintain the guardrails against any possible recurrence. There shouldn’t be a sliver of doubt about what the Nazi German regime did, nor should such a mega-platform as Facebook be used by antisemites to peddle their grotesque manipulation of history,” Harris said.

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