Click ‘LIKE’ Holocaust denial

Our message to Facebook should be clear – if you’re not taking it down, you’re endorsing it. If you’re endorsing it, you’ll be held accountable.

October 30, 2013 22:45
3 minute read.
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Facebook logo 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The annual conference of INACH-International Network Against CyberHate, an international umbrella organization which brings together NGOs involved in the combat against cyber-hate directed at minorities, was held last week in one of Uppsala University’s halls in Sweden.

The meetings weren’t supposed to make headlines. However, the speakers, all representatives of respected organizations, began weaving a disturbing cross-sector picture regarding the dimensions of hatred being spread on the Internet.

Students from France and Sweden told how it is to get up every morning and find dozens of hate messages and death threats in their Facebook inbox.

Reports from other parts of the world revealed what was already known: Facebook is becoming a hothouse of incitement against ethnic and religious groups, women, homosexuals and others.

For example, in the Netherlands there’s a Facebook page calling to “Gas the Gypsies” which is operated undisturbed.

During all the sessions, there was one woman who sat and listened impassively to these remarks. She is the person responsible in part for the user policy of the popular social network.

She later explained the company’s strict principles regarding the manifestations of hate and incitement, and the need to protect Facebook’s users.

Facebook’s anti-hate “reporting wars” are well known. No Jew or Israeli has not encountered this anti-Semitic phenomena and tried to report it, only to encounter a virtual brick wall, since such things don’t violate Facebook’s user policy.

When it was time to take questions from the crowed I got up and asked the Facebook rep a simple question: Why does Facebook pointedly ignore reports of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial on its own website? As an example I started reading out loud a random post Facebook refused to remove a few days ago claiming it didn’t “violate the community standard on hate speech”: “Do you know how dangerous the Jews are? How much power they have in banks, governments and food industry? People of satanic rituals, pedophiles, rapists and murderers, sacrifices of non-Jews victims for Passover,” etc.

Further, the poster has also written a well-known Holocaust denial argument, which states that the Jews sacrificed the Holocaust victims during WWII in order to get global sympathy.

The woman’s reply shocked the crowd: “Facebook’s policy allows content of Holocaust denial because it is a legitimate historical debate.”

Since I was still holding the microphone, I displayed on my tablet screen one of the vilest images on Facebook, comparing Auschwitz children with Palestinian workers at a checkpoint.

“Does this one look legitimate as well?” I yelled at her.

In recent report, The Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) situated in Australia confirmed that Facebook has become the main distribution method for anti-Semitic incitement and racism worldwide.

To add to the embarrassment, OHPI stated that Facebook does not really understand anti-Semitism and has trouble recognizing some very wellknown types of it. The result is tens of thousands of pages and profiles daily spread even greater amount of disturbing hate speech.

Under the guise of Facebook’s policy and atmosphere, no wonder that the very existence of Nazi death camps and gas chambers has become a “legitimate academic discussion.”

However, Facebook will soon discover that choosing to ignore this can cost it dearly. A few days ago hundreds of people gathered outside the company’s headquarters in Palo Alto, California, to demand a strong and uniform policy against anti-Semitism being distributed on the social network.

Last year, The Union of Jewish Students in France took Twitter to court in a lawsuit worth $50 million that stunned the new-media world. The reason: allowing anti-Semitic incitement against the French Jews under the hashtag #UnBonJuif (“A good Jew”).

The union retracted the suit after Twitter agreed to transfer to the French government personal details of the agitators.

A few months later France witnessed what happens when hate is pumped out of computer screens when a terrorist attacked a school in Toulouse, killing Rabbi Jonathan Sandler, his two oldest children Aryeh and Gabriel, and eight-year-old Miriam Monsonego.

During the murders, the terrorist wore a webcam so he could publish the videos online.

Our message to Facebook should be clear – if you’re not taking it down, you’re endorsing it. If you’re endorsing it, you’ll be held accountable.

Recent history has proven that hate does not stay on computer monitors, but goes out and collects its human victims. Not-so-distant history teaches how indifference to hatred can cause catastrophe.

The author is the Program Coordinator of the Students Combating Online Anti-Semitism Program in The National Union of Israeli Students.

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