Zuckerberg: Facebook Will Not Remove Holocaust Denial Because ‘Everyone Deserves a Voice’
UPDATE: Germany has just announced that if Mark Zuckerberg won’t enforce anti-Holocaust denial provisions on his platform, it will:
“There must be no place for anti-Semitism [on Facebook]. This includes verbal and physical attacks on Jews as well as the denial of Holocaust,” Justice Minister Katarina Barley said on Thursday.
“The latter is also punishable by us and will be strictly prosecuted,” Barley said.
A ministry spokesperson said Facebook must adhere to German law
It will levy up to $58-million in fines against Facebook for such infractions. I’ll bet Marky Mark gets the message right quick. Money talks, while morality whispers.
Mark Zuckerberg gave another one of his clueless interviews to Recode in which he actually tried to make the argument that Holocaust denial was not a punishable offense on Facebook because it was only a “wrong opinion” and everyone makes errors once in a while. It’s an example of someone totally oblivious to his moral responsibilities in the world. Someone so obsessively devoted to selling his product, that all else is subsumed and secondary. I am sorry to say this but it makes him an accessory to evil.
In discussing various repugnant content on the platform and whether or not Facebook wound ban it, Zuckerberg raised the Holocaust:
Z: I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened.
S: Yes, there’s a lot.
Z: I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong, but I think-
S: In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be, but go ahead.
Z: It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do. I’m sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too, and I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, “We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.” (Update: Mark has clarified these remarks here: “I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.”)
What we will do is we’ll say, “Okay, you have your page, and if you’re not trying to organize harm against someone, or attacking someone, then you can put up that content on your page, even if people might disagree with it or find it offensive.” But that doesn’t mean that we have a responsibility to make it widely distributed in News Feed. I think we, actually, to the contrary-
S: So you move them down? Versus, in Myanmar, where you remove it?
There are so many things wrong with Zuckerberg’s comments here, it’s hard to know where to begin. First, Holocaust denial is not simply an idea that people “get wrong.” It is a hoax, the epitome of fake news. It is not an opinion like a million other harmless opinion. It is a form of thought that either excuses or endorses mass murder. Zuckerberg, who seems to have an awfully hazy grasp of Jewish history, doesn’t understand that Nazism came from somewhere. It came from precisely the sorts of people who espouse Holocaust denial, white supremacy, Neo-Nazism, etc.
These ideologies not only foment hatred, they incite true believers to acts of violence, even murder. And social media shares some responsibility for some of these crimes. Especially, if the perpetrators use social media to communicate their ideas and to be indoctrinated by others sharing those ideas.
Even Zuckerberg’s supposed “clarification” doesn’t help him. Of course, he’s not defending Holocaust denial. But he isn’t addressing it either as it runs rampant on his own company’s platform.
Finally, the idea that Myanmar, which is a case of genocide, is somehow different from Holocaust denial is specious. Nazis killed 6-million Jews. The Burmese junta has murdered hundreds of thousands and ethnically cleansed over 500,000. There is no difference between them.
In talking about fake news on Facebook, the interviewer asks:
Why don’t you wanna just say “get off our platform?”
Look, as abhorrent as some of this content can be, I do think that it gets down to this principle of giving people a voice.
Even if it’s a hoax.
Yeah. I mean, at some level, it’s hard to always have a clear line between … I’m not defending any specific content here. I think a lot of the content that’s at play is terrible. I think when you get into discussions around free speech, you’re often talking at the margins of content that is terrible and what should … but defending people’s right to say things even if they can be bad.
No, Holocaust denial is not just “bad.” It is the successor to the worst evil of the 20th century. That’s far beyond “bad.”
The utter hypocrisy of Zuckerberg’s statement rears its ugly head around the issue of Palestine. There, entire pages and individual users have been suspended and even banned, not because they espouse violence, but because the Israeli government has told Facebook they do. And Facebook has dutifully capitulated. It rarely disagrees. Further, Israeli human rights campaigners have reviewed Facebook postings by Israelis and Palestinians and find that Israelis post four times as much hate speech as Palestinians. Yet hardly any of the Israeli hate is ever removed. The reason is clear: Israel has a great deal more power in the scheme of things than Palestine. Facebook fears state power. It doesn’t care about fairness or justice.
Let’s examine, as an example, Jewish Facebook hate that’s alive and well on the platform: the largest Jewish Facebook page in Canada (220,000 followers) is Never Again Canada:
It is by far the largest-reaching and fastest-growing Canadian Jewish page on Facebook, with more followers than B’nai Brith Canada, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, UJA Federation of Canada, the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee and The Canadian Jewish News combined.
As many will recall, this was Meir Kahane’s slogan and the page is administered by avowed members of the Jewish Defense League, whose Israeli branch, Kach, is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury. However, you will never see the phrase “Jewish Defense League” or “Meir Kahane” posted by the page’s administrators.
Zuckerberg doesn’t seem troubled by that in the least by this stealth hate, since the page is alive and well on his social media platform. The article linked above also notes that NAC routinely posts provably fraudulent Islamophobic claims. I guess Zuckerberg is a tad sensitive to fake news due to the horrible publicity he’s gotten lately. But fake Muslim news, not so much.
Returning to the case of Palestine, Facebook is suppressing political speech, not hate speech. Not speech which arouses violence. But rather speech which arouses resistance to Occupation.
It’s also worth noting that the entire interview deals with Facebook as a domestic American company. Clearly, the rules he devises hardly apply outside the U.S. or perhaps western democracies. Facebook does not uphold these principles in countries ruled by military juntas or dictators. Rather, it is at their beck and call.
What irks me even more is that Facebook users are often arrested and imprisoned for perfectly reasonable things they say on the platform, yet the company feels no sense of responsibility for that. The attitude is: “you’re on your own, Jack.” If Facebook is a community, it is an awfully one-sided one in which you owe Facebook much and it owes you nothing.
23 thoughts on “Zuckerberg: Facebook Will Not Remove Holocaust Denial Because ‘Everyone Deserves a Voice’ – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
Comments are published at the sole discretion of the owner.
If posting a picture of a Palestinian stabbing an Israeli soldier isn’t ‘incitement’, then what is?
Is glorifying the murderer of an innocent rabbi, ‘political expression’, or something else?
Well Peg do you think that the propaganda picture describes the reality? Even a five year old Palestinian boy understands, that the picture is not describing the reality. There are some popular Hollywood films (Inglourious Basterds for example) which describes how a couple of super Jews did beat countless Germans in WW2. Those films also are pure propaganda and describe a reality the target audience wanted to be true, but was not. Still those films incite “Israelis” to ever wilder performances in the Israeli reality.
The other thing you Peg can think about, why is the Arab attacking the soldier who has his finger on the trigger of his assault rifle? Maybe the soldier is stealing the muscular Arab’s property and so the super-Arab is angry? Is the real victim the superior armed Jewish soldier or the super-Arab with only a cheap kitchen knife?
That dreamy picture of the Dome of the Rock in the background will suggest to
‘a five year old Palestinian boy’, the reason for the knife assault on the soldier.
The Jewish soldier is obviously on the area of the Islamic shrine trying to destroy it and the super-Arab is using his kitchen knife to hinder the racist-religious crime by the military. As you know Peg the Israeli army is famous for destroying Islamic shrines. They have destroyed hundreds of mosques.. Hundreds of years old mosgues were and are destroyed because they did not have a “valid building permit”. Palestinians have good reasons for these propaganda pictures.
An Israeli picture of Warsaw Ghetto – to what does it incite – attacking tanks and superior troops with a small pistol and a flag?
@Peg: if you truly wanted to stop any Palestinian, 5 year old or 80 year old, from harboring such revenge fantasies you would militantly demand an immediate end to Occupation, acceptance of a Palestinian state,return to 67 borders, recognition of Jerusakem as a shared capital and Nakba return.
Anything short of that is a waste of time. Yours and ours.
Richard, your demands are in effect, the end of the Jewish state.
And until then, you don’t care about incitement?? How exactly people’s mind will change if anyone ever will sign an agreement.
As for incitement on Palestinian side, if you are not willing to look at MEMRI & PMW material, you have no chance of knowing of Palestinian incitement. Where exactly will you learn about it, Seattle newspapers?
@ Lior Azar:
First of all, I don’t make “demands.” Journalists or bloggers don’t make demands. They analyze, observe and comment. That’s what I do.
Second, let’s make very clear what my views do and don’t mean for Israel. Would my views mean the end of a state which discriminates against 1-million of its citizens? Which suppresses free speech and free press? Which treats refugees like dirt? Which privileges a bunch of unelected grey-beard misogynists over every Jew in the country? Which shoots and kills with impunity Palestinian citizens and non-citizens? Yup, guilty as charged. If you want an anti-democratic, theocratic state, that’s not what I’m for.
But if you want a democratic state in which all religions are treated equally, where all citizens have equal rights, where all children have equal opportunities, where journalists can do their jobs, where no censors roam, where 1-million non-Jews can live lives as fully as the other 6-million Jewish citizens, that’s what I’m for. Does this state mean any disrespect of diminution of the religious values of its Jewish inhabitants? No. Does it mean Jews cannot practice their religion fully? No.
Unless of course your definition of being Jewish in Israel is having the right to defile worship for Christians and Muslims.
I don’t need MEMRI to tell me what Palestinians think. I have a brain and eyes in my head and I can fully follow all the trends in the Palestinian community using credible international and Israeli media. I don’t need liars and frauds to tell me anything, let alone on that subject.
If you believe the only way you can know the bad things that Palestinians allegedly think & say is by scraping the barrel with those shnooks, you’re pathetic and sad.
I find it interesting that clear violent images and text produced by Palestinians are being whitewashed by humanitarians while st the same time, vague statements by Israelis are being read into in order to present them as violent.
Hypocrisy?? You bet!!
@ Lior: Don’t piss on our backs and tell us it’s rain! Israelis have published explicit, repeated, serial incitement to genocide. Not vague at all. I have written about many here. Do not attempt to pass off your unfounded claims as fact here. Offer credible proof of your claims or you may not last long here.
@Peg: Holy cow! You found a single incident of Palestinian incitement. You are a cracker jack researcher! I can find 10 such Israeli examples for every one you find. So big frigging deal. As noted the Israeli incidence of violence, hate and even solicitations to .murder are far more prevalent than Palestinian. I have also written blog posts documenting this.
[Comment deleted: I do not entertain Holocaust denial here.]
Obviously you haven’t even googled it.
One article but there are many others.
‘I have long wondered where the figure of six million comes from.’
I believe some American Jewish organization offered it up as a working figure when someone asked, ‘well, what number should we use?’
Of course no one knows exactly. Hilberg came up with 5.1 million, I think. Even David Irving would have to concede four million Jews were murdered — he’s stated 2.5 million were killed in the ‘Operation Reinhard’ camps alone.
At the opposite extreme, it’s perfectly possible seven million were killed. No one has more than the roughest idea how many were killed by German army units, bands of armed gentiles in Eastern Europe, who died after fleeing into the forest, etc, etc. Indeed, death by exposure in the forest over the winter must have been a big killer. Many Jews did try to run away. They just weren’t very good at it. You don’t make it through winter in Poland if you’re out of doors with a blanket but no food.
To my mind, it’s all secondary. Obviously, it matters a lot to Jew number 5,742,358 if the killing stopped at 5,700,000 or 5,800,000 but only someone impervious to the evidence can deny that the Germans set about killing every Jew they could and in fact bagged several million — and that pretty much defines the moral nature of the act. It’s simply not critical, ethically, whether the net total was five million or seven million.
Colin Wright, the problem is that Jewish population numbers were known in Western and Eastern Europe, but they hit a wall within the USSR because the SS murder squads (Einsatzkommandos) of the SS Einsatzgruppen “death squad army” didn’t keep strict records. Raul Hilberg said they killed 2 million people and around 1.3 million Jews (according to Wikipedia, so check those figures). Whomever wasn’t killed outright got sucked into the concentration camp system in later sweeps; for example, Vladek Spiegelman met a Soviet Jew named “Yidl” who was a tinsmith at Auschwitz when Spiegelman was on a work detail in 1943 assembling camp building roofs. The encounter is recounted in Maus, Art Spiegelman’s graphic novel, in Volume Two.
The Soviet Union provides other problems – do you count Jewish Leningraders who starved to death during the Siege as Holocaust dead? The combat deaths of Soviet Jewish soldiers, airmen, sailors? Any of the other siege dead (Stalingrad, etc.)? It’s a complicated mess sorting all of it out because of how things overlap. As for Zuckerberg, he is a fool.
[Comment deleted: off topic]
@Lior: Please don’t feed the Holocaust denying trolls.
There are others, of course, who would regard criticism of our noble and democratic ally, Israel, as pernicious, poisonous nonsense, and would heartily agree with you that such views should not be disseminated.
In this case, you really are next. Shortly after they’ve taken down the Holocaust Deniers, they’ll come for you — and don’t think having your ‘own’ website will prove much of an obstacle. Think twice about what you’re advocating.
Free speech isn’t for what you agree with. Of course no one’s going to bar saying things they find congenial. It’s precisely to protect those views you can’t stand.
This link will give you what you want Greg Gilbert.
@Colin: not the same at all. I’m not talking about adhering to Israel Lobby standards of incitement. I’m talking about suppressiding hoaxes and lies. Holocaust denial is not only pernicious, but it is the direct successor to Nazi genocidal ideology. We’re way beyond congeniality here It is the equivalent of shouting fire in a crowded theater. It does not deserve acceptance on privately owned social media platforms.
There’s also the question of just where does one stop? In point of fact, not only is Holocaust Denial now being marginalized — so are other forms of expression.
‘Rudyard Kipling’s ‘If’ poem scrubbed off wall by students who claim he was a ‘racist’
Camilla Turner, education editor
18 JULY 2018 • 4:00PM
… Student leaders at Manchester University declared that Kipling “stands for the opposite of liberation, empowerment, and human rights”.
The poem, which had been painted on the wall of the students’ union building by an artist, was removed by students on Tuesday, in a bid to “reclaim” history on behalf of those who have been “oppressed” by “the likes of Kipling”.
In lieu of Kipling’s If, students used a black marker pen to write out the poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou on the same stretch of wall..’
Kipling, you see, is racist.
Now, how does this differ from the Nazis burning books? But having insisted that Zuckerberg bar the expression of views YOU don’t like, what can you really say?
Isn’t the only possible secure protection for freedom of speech to insist on the right of everyone to say whatever they choose — even if it is pernicious nonsense?
Which side are you truly on? You do have to ask yourself that. You may think the religious loon screaming in the parking lot is a pain in the ass — but if you actually want to be free yourself, you have to let him have at it.
Colin: if you don’t see the difference between murdering 6 million and advocating for the murderers as Holocaust denial does–and banning an offensive poem, then far be it from me to enlighten you.
No more comments from you in this thread
‘…an offensive poem…’
WHAT is offensive about ‘If’?
By “offensive” I was assuming the protesters were objecting to Kipling’s racist-imperialist views. I didn’t read the poem closely.