Facebook continually fails to deter hate speech

Clara Barros/Staff Writer

Last Wednesday, July 18, Mark Zuckerberg found himself in the midst of a political turmoil after claiming that Facebook should not take down Holocaust denial posts because he didn’t believe their authors were “intentionally getting it wrong.”

Though he later tried to soften the impact of his words by saying he finds Holocaust denial “deeply offensive,” Zuckerberg was criticized by Jewish groups and anti-racism organizationsand rightfully so.

I understand many people tremble at the sound of the words “ban,” “take down,” or “censor.” But removing Holocaust denial posts is less of a threat to freedom of speech than it seems to be it’s a duty.

Facebook’s community standards, as they are, already ban hate speech. What we must understandZuckerberg includedis why Holocaust denial falls under that category.

The persecution and mass murder of six million Jews from 1933 to 1945 is a historical fact. The discussion of whether or not it really happened is not the equivalent of, for example, a scientific debate about whether time-travel is possible.

Whenever a person claims the Holocaust did not occur, this is a political statement.

It’s a political statement that denies the objective reality of the pain, the suffering, and the horror brought about by concentration camps, torture, and gas chambers.

It’s a statement that explicitly erases the experience of Jews, gypsies, gays, lesbians, socialists, and other victims of the regime.

And it’s a statement that obscures the figure of Adolf Hitler, whose defense of eugeny and the superiority of the so-called “Aryan race” is demonstrated in his own book, “Mein Kampf”“My Struggle” in English.

As Matthew McGregor, campaigns director of HOPE not Hate, put it, denying the Holocaust is more than just “deeply offensive”it’s an inherently violent and anti-Semitic message that “must not be able to flourish.”

This is not the first time Facebook has been complacent with violence or at odds with human rights.

Just take a look at what has been happening in Myanmar lately. In the Southern Asian country, the Rohingyawho are a Muslim minority populationare the target of systematic violence by Buddhist nationalists, and are often described as “the world’s most persecuted minority.”

Last year, Buddhist nationalist hate speech boomed in Myanmarand Facebook was accused of playing a key role in its spread.

While 650,000 Rohingya refugees had to flee the country from persecution, Facebook allowed pictures of signs demarcating “Muslim-free” zones to be shared over 11,000 times. Myanmar’s military, accused by a UN official of promoting a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” has a Facebook-verified page with millions of followers.

Not only did Facebook fail to deter the aggressorsit also began to censor the victims. The social media site classified a Rohingya defense group, Arsa, as a terrorist organization and deleted any posts related to it.

Zuckerberg doesn’t believe Holocaust deniers are “intentionally getting it wrong”but Zuckerberg himself, without a doubt, is.



The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.


Photo taken from Flickr.

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