Facebook bans Holocaust-denial content after allowing it for years

  • Facebook announced Monday it was changing its hate speech policy to “prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.”
  • The company has faced criticism for more than a decade over its refusal to moderate anti-Semitic content that distorts or denies the Holocaust, when Nazis and their allies systematically killed 6 million Jews, happened.
  • In the weeks leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Facebook has attempted to mitigate criticism that it fails to prevent the spread of dangerous conspiracy theories and disinformation on its platform. Just last week, Facebook said it banned QAnon accounts across its platforms.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook has banned Holocaust-denial content from the platform after years of criticism over its refusal to take action against such anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Facebook announced Monday it was updating its hate speech policy to “prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust.”

The policy change marks an abrupt about-face on Facebook’s refusal, for more than a decade, to remove content from its platform that denies the existence of the Holocaust and the genocide of millions of Jews and other minority groups. The platform has faced pressure from human rights and civil rights groups to take a stricter stance against such content, but Facebook has maintained that the “mere statement” of Holocaust denial doesn’t violate policies.

“I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Recode in July 2018. “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.”

In the meantime, it appears that Holocaust-denial content on Facebook has continued to not just exist, but flourish. A recent study, published in August by

Facebook reverses policy and bans Holocaust denial on its platforms

Facebook has announced a ban on content that denies or distorts the Holocaust. The policy marks a reversal on how to handle a disturbing category of posts that CEO Mark Zuckerberg once said should not be blocked on the platform even though they’re false. 

The company updated its hate speech policy to prohibit such content, Monika Bickert, VP of Content Policy at Facebook, said in a statement on Monday. 

“Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-Semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people,” she said.

Groups that track hate speech “are reporting increases in online attacks against many groups worldwide, and we continue our efforts to remove it,” Bickert said. 

The company says it removed 22.5 million pieces of hate speech shared on its platform in the second quarter of this year alone. Facebook has also banned more than 250 white white supremacist organizations and updated its policies for handling militia groups and the QAnon conspiracy theory, the statement said. 

The new policy is a change from Facebook’s previous stance on the issue of Holocaust denial. In 2018, Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, said in an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher that while he found such claims “deeply offensive,” he did not believe Facebook should block them.

“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,” Zuckerberg said, adding that he didn’t think they were “intentionally” getting it wrong — at which point Swisher cut in and said, “In the case of the Holocaust deniers, they might be.” 

Zuckerberg sought to clarify his comments in a follow-up email to Swisher, saying he “absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who

U.S. companies lobby against China tech bans

The friction shows the difficulties the government faces in translating its national-security agenda into the real world, where influential industries have developed deep ties to China over many years.

Congress and the Trump administration say the measures are necessary to lessen U.S. reliance on a strategic rival that could sabotage, hack or withhold important technology. Some U.S. companies argue that the restrictions will cost tens of billions of dollars and in some cases won’t improve national security.

“We are broadly supportive of the spirit” of a law imposing new restrictions for federal contractors, Wesley Hallman, head of strategy and policy at the National Defense Industrial Association, said in an interview, adding that “some suspicion of Chinese components” is warranted.

But “if you were to apply this law very broadly in the way it is written,” he said, “just about all contractors doing work with the federal government, they would have to stop.”

China hawks in Congress have raised alarms about the corporate pushback, accusing companies of putting profits before national security.

“Tech insiders are trying to gut provisions of the defense funding bill that would restrict use of Chinese tech products. Senate negotiators, don’t give in! This is not the time to go soft on #China,” Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) tweeted Oct. 1.

“Under no circumstances should we weaken or delay implementation of our laws banning the U.S. federal government and government contractors from using Huawei equipment,” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) tweeted this summer, a position his office said he maintains. “That would be a gift to the Chinese Communist Party.”

The new restrictions have been proposed or enacted in a mix of bills, laws and executive-branch actions affecting a range of industries.

Prohibitions adopted with bipartisan support in an annual defense-spending law are drawing particular industry ire.

As

Pakistan bans TikTok for ‘immoral’ content

The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) on Friday issued instructions to block controversial video-sharing platform TikTok.

In a statement, the PTA said the ban followed a number of complaints about the type of content shared on the app.

“In view of a number of complaints from different segments of the society against immoral/indecent content on the video-sharing application TikTok, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority has issued instructions for blocking of the application,” it wrote.

The PTA said after considering the complaints, as well as the nature of the content being “consistently” posted, it issued a final notice to the application.

The watchdog said it gave TikTok considerable time to respond and comply with its instructions for “development of effective mechanism for proactive moderation of unlawful online content”.

“However, the application failed to fully comply with the instructions, therefore, directions were issued for blocking of TikTok application in the country,” it continued.

“TikTok has been informed that the Authority is open for engagement and will review its decision subject to a satisfactory mechanism by TikTok to moderate unlawful content.”

In late August, a video of a man dying by suicide was posted on Facebook. The graphic video spread across other platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube, but it continued to appear on TikTok weeks later as the app struggled to remove the horrific content.

The PTA had at the time asked TikTok to “block the vulgar, indecent, and immoral content for viewership in Pakistan”.

It asked the platform to put in place stronger content monitoring and moderation mechanisms so that unlawful material could not be accessed or viewed within Pakistan.

It also asked similar requests of Youtube, demanding the Facebook-owned site to “block vulgar, indecent, immoral, nude, and hate speech content for viewing in Pakistan”.

“PTA has done so keeping in view the

Pakistan bans Chinese app TikTok over unlawful content

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan blocked the Chinese social media app TikTok, saying the company failed to fully comply with the instructions to develop an effective mechanism to control unlawful content.

In a statement, the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority said Friday that it took the step after receiving complaints against “immoral and indecent” content on the video-sharing platform.

The PTA said that keeping in view the complaints and nature of the content being consistently posted on TikTok, the company was issued a final notice and given considerable time to respond and comply with instructions and guidelines.

But TikTok “failed to fully comply with PTA’s instructions,” after which the authority decided to ban it in Pakistan.

Shortly after the ban, the app began to show a blank interface with no text or images loading.

Pakistan has close relations with China.

The telecommunication authority kept the door open for a return of TikTok, saying “it is open for engagement” and would review its decision if TikTok develops a mechanism to moderate the content.

It has been a target of several complaints and court petitions calling for its ban in Pakistan. In July, PTA said it had issued a “final warning” to TikTok to remove “obscene and immoral content.”

The video-sharing app, which is owned by China’s ByteDance, is the third-most downloaded app over the past year after WhatsApp and Facebook and has been downloaded almost 39 million times in Pakistan.

The app was earlier banned by India and the United States for violating guidelines.

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