Zuckerberg attempts to clarify Holocaust denial comments

Cheryl Sanders
July 20, 2018

Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, said in an interview with Recode that Facebook posts denying the Holocaust took place would not be removed automatically. But it's Zuckerberg's views on that last topic which has brought controversy: he said that conspiracy theorists, including Holocaust deniers, deserve a voice on the platform.

And Matt Ford, a reporter at The Atlantic, pointed out that Mr Zuckerberg had not even been asked about the Holocaust - "he just said he'd keep it on Facebook on his own".

As an example, Zuckerberg raised the issue of Holocaust denial - a stance which he has said he personally finds repugnant, yet one that would be allowed on the site if it didn't explicitly incite violence (albeit in a significantly de-prioritized state). "But at the same time, I think that we have a responsibility to, when you look at... if you look at the top hundred things that are going viral or getting distribution on Facebook within any given day, I do think we have a responsibility to make sure that those aren't hoaxes and blatant misinformation".

Critics quickly picked up on Zuckerberg's comments, noting that his logic casts doubt on Facebook's ability to prevent another Cambridge Analytica scandal or the additional spread of Russian propaganda during a US election.

"The approach that we have taken to false news is not to say, you can't say something wrong on the internet".

Zeynep Tufekci, a University of North Carolina professor who follows social media said on Twitter: "Harder to find a group of people more *intentional* about "denying" an atrocity in order to pave the way for more violence than holocaust-deniers". I think that would be too extreme... "I know some people say well, that's freedom of speech, but you don't always need to use it, you don't need to go into a theater and yell fire". "I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly".

In any case, the CEO of Facebook gets to set whatever policies regarding content-sharing on his platform that he likes.

What Zuckerberg has yet to say is that he will rethink his attitude about the Holocaust and work to stop hateful deniers from spreading libels and lies against a long-persecuted people.

The heated discussion over Zuckerberg's remarks is the latest in a string of debates over whether Facebook is simply a technological platform, or if it should best be seen - and see itself - as a media outlet.

The original comments, given in a wide-ranging interview with Recode, were made in response to questions about what Facebook was doing to combat fake news and sites, such as InfoWars, that promoted conspiracy theories.

Facebook on Wednesday built on its campaign to prevent the platform from being used to spread risky misinformation, saying it will remove bogus posts likely to spark violence.

Presently, Facebook bans content that directly calls for violence but the new policy will cover fake news that has the potential to stir up physical harm which includes both written posts and manipulated images, CNET reported.

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