Facebook finally bans Holocaust denial content

The company updated its hate speech policy to prohibit such material.

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Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, said during the company’s earnings call that, like the boycott’s organizers, "we don't want hate on our platforms, and we stand firmly against it." (Getty Images)
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Facebook is clamping down on content that “denies or distorts the Holocaust.” It banned such material under its updated hate speech policy.

“Our decision is supported 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. “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.”

It’s Facebook’s latest effort to stamp out anti-Semitism. The company recently banned “stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions,” as Bickert pointed out.

Facebook has been working with global and local groups such as the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee for several years to better understand how hatred is conveyed online. The company has also collaborated with organizations that tackle anti-Semitism, including the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

It’ll take some time before Facebook can effectively police this ban, Bickert wrote. The company will need to train its content reviewers and systems on how to tackle such content, as there’s a wide range of material that would violate the rules. Later this year, Facebook will start directing people who search for terms linked to Holocaust denial or the atrocity in general to “credible information” from third-party sources.

Facebook, which banned the QAnon conspiracy theory from its platform last week, has recently enacted more measures to reduce the spread of hate speech and other harmful content. Earlier this year, several major advertisers withheld ads or at least threatened to in order to pressure Facebook into taking more action.

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