Facebook bans Holocaust denial posts following pressure from elderly survivors

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Mike Wright
·2 min read
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Facebook has come under sustained pressure to remove Holocaust denial posts - PA
Facebook has come under sustained pressure to remove Holocaust denial posts - PA

Facebook has banned Holocaust denial material in ‘long overdue’ move following sustained pressure from elderly survivors of the Nazi death camps.

The social media giant faced mounting criticism from Jewish groups and Holocaust survivors in recent months, including Anne Frank’s step sister, who personally begged Mark Zuckerberg to purge the site of posts distorting the genocide. 

Mr Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, announced Monday he had decided to reverse the company’s initial resistance to deleting such posts, remarking that his ‘thinking had evolved’ on the issue after seeing evidence of a rise in antisemetic violence.

However, Facebook also warned it would take time for the company to train staff to effectively remove denial material.

Board of Deputies of British Jews welcomed the move but described it was “long overdue”, adding that Holocaust denial was “inextricably tied to the most vile antisemitism.”

It said it hoped Facebook would now accept the full International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism to help combat hate speech on the social network.

Facebook’s stance on Holocaust denial drew global criticism when in 2018 Mr Zuckerberg, himself Jewish, said that he did not think the social media giant should delete posts diminishing or denying the Nazi genocide, which saw and estimated 12 million people, including six million Jews, slaughtered.

At the time, the CEO argued that although he personally found Holocaust denial “deeply offensive” there were “things that different people get wrong”.

In the intervening years, Facebook has faced a growing backlash led by elderly Holocaust victims making direct pleas to Mr Zuckerberg on his own site, including Auschwitz survivor Eva Geiringer Schloss.

The 91-year-old, who lives in Britain and is the step daughter of Otto Frank and stepsister of his diarist daughter Anne, recorded a message on Facebook in July saying: “I had to flee from the Nazis, I ended up in Holland where I was arrested with my whole family and sent to Auschwitz death camp. 

“There only my mother and I survived. I lost all my family - many, many family members. There is no denying it, remove Holocaust denial from Facebook.”

Following the announcement, Facebook warned its ban would not happen “overnight”.

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy enforcement, said: “There is a range of content that can violate these policies, and it will take some time to train our reviewers and systems on enforcement.”