Credit: Pat Bagley
Facebook has an ethics problem. It denounces hate speech but not Holocaust denial. Isn’t antisemitism at the very root of Holocaust denial?
Facebook doesn’t think so. In fact, its spokesperson, Simon Axton, says, “We recognize people’s right to be factually wrong about historical events.” Wonder if he was able to say that with a straight face.
Holohoax, a Facebook page with 58 active members, describes its mission as “Putting some sense into the Holocaust story.” Lovely. There’s also, I Deny the Holocaust, which has 42 “likes,” and its very own t-shirt. (See below).
From Facebook's "I Deny the Holocaust"
The Anti-Defamation League, Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance, and a whole host of other global organizations, have repeatedly asked Facebook to remove the offensive pages. Unfortunately the pages remain.
In an email to MSNBC last month, Andrew Noyes, Facebook’s public policy communications manager, wrote:
“We have spent considerable time internally discussing the issues of Holocaust denial and have come to the conclusion that the mere statement of denying the Holocaust is not a violation of our terms.
“We think that there is a meaningful difference between advocating violence against a group of people and expressing an opinion on a policy, set of beliefs, or historical event — even if that opinion is factually wrong, or is outrageous or offensive to most people.”
Noyes also mentions that although many employees at Facebook have personal connections to the Holocaust, “We believe in Facebook’s mission that giving people tools to make the world more open is a better way to combat ignorance or deception than censorship, though we recognize that others may disagree.”
In other words, “let’s agree to disagree,” one of the most frustrating argument-enders of all time. That one never feels like a period at the end of a sentence to me but rather this: #@*!%#*.
I’ll end with something a tad more lighthearted. Per Lloyd Grove of The Daily Beast, “TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, who noted that while Facebook was meticulously removing photos of breast-feeding women, it was allowing the proliferation of Holocaust-denial pages. His mordant headline: ‘Jew Haters Welcome At Facebook, As Long As They Aren’t Lactating.’”
I spurted milk out of my mouth while reading that this morning at breakfast. And no I’m not lactating. It was from my bowl of shredded oats.