Facebook updates policy on antisemitism, moving closer to IHRA definition

"We’re updating our policies to more specifically account for certain kinds of implicit hate speech or stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world," Facebook said.

Facebook symbol  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Facebook symbol
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Facebook has updated its policies to better combat antisemitic speech on its platform, Facebook’s Vice President for Integrity, Guy Rosen, announced in a blog post on Tuesday.
Facebook has come in for sustained criticism over its policy on hate speech after cases of Holocaust denial and antisemitism were allowed to remain on the site. But the social media giant is now taking steps to more closely conform with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance's (IHRA's) working definition of antisemitism, which includes making dehumanizing or stereotypical allegations about Jews, such as the myth of a world Jewish conspiracy or Jews controlling the media.
"We’ve made progress combating hate on our apps, but we know we have more to do to ensure everyone feels comfortable using our services," Rosen wrote. "That’s why we’ve established new inclusive teams and task forces, including the Instagram Equity Team and the Facebook Inclusive Product Council, to help us build products that are deliberately fair and inclusive, and we’re launching a Diversity Advisory Council that will provide input based on lived experience on a variety of topics and issues."
Rosen continued: "We’re also updating our policies to more specifically account for certain kinds of implicit hate speech, such as content depicting blackface, or stereotypes about Jewish people controlling the world."
The Combat Anti-Semitism Movement (CAM), a non-partisan, global grassroots movement of people and organizations of all faiths, has welcomed the move.
“The updated policy on hate speech announced today by Facebook is a significant step in the right direction to combat online antisemitism," CAM's director, Sacha Roytman-Dratwa said: "For too long, social media platforms have been something of a ‘safe space’ for anti-Semites who wish to spread hatred against Jews, often reviving centuries-old stereotypes.
“When hatred and bigotry is permitted online, it is quickly replicated in real life and so we applaud the new Facebook policy prohibiting some of the most damaging anti-Semitic stereotypes. Although there is plenty more work to be done, Facebook has today set a strong example to all social media platforms.”
The move by Facebook came shortly after a coalition of nearly 130 Jewish and pro-Israel organizations from around the world has appealed to Facebook to step up its efforts to combat antisemitism on its platform, recruiting Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs Orit Farkash-Hacohen to help lead the charge.
The coalition of groups had urged Facebook to fully adopt the IHRA definition at a time of rising antisemitism, arguing that the definition “provides an effective, neutral and nuanced tool to protect against incitement to hatred, inside and outside the social network.”
“I am pleased that more than 100 pro-Israel organizations have approached me to address this important issue,” Farkash-Hacohen said. “I welcome the initiative and call on more bodies and organizations to join the clear demand for change.”