On Monday, Facebook announced it will start prohibiting content that denies and distorts the holocaust.
The new prohibition will be part of Facebook’s update on its policy against hate speech.
According to Facebook’s blog post, there is an alarming increase in people’s ignorance about the holocaust and antisemitism globally.
Moreover, ignorance against the holocaust is more rampant among young people, per a survey among 18-39 year old, US adults.
Facebook said in the blog post, almost a quarter of those who answered the survey believe the holocaust is a myth or just an exaggeration.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also posted on his page that they will start “directing” people to “authoritative source” about the holocaust if they search about it.
A Different Approach
Facebook’s new announcement is a far cry from the social media giant’s usual take on such topics.
According to the Anti Defamation League (ADL), Facebook has continuously refused to acknowledge that holocaust denial violated their policies.
Zuckerberg himself is Jewish, and according to his 2018 interview with Vox, denying the holocaust is offensive to him.
However, Zuckerberg added that although he is Jewish, he does not believe those posts should be taken down.
According to Zuckerberg, Facebook does not have the responsibility of taking out wrong or offensive things just because other people think differently.
In fact, doing that will infringe on free expression.
Moreover, as long as people don’t cause harm or are organizing to cause harm, it’s ok.
However, on Monday, Zuckerberg explains that his views evolved due to data showing antisemitism has also increased.
Thus the announcement.
Opinion: It is not Facebook’s Obligation to Combat Misinformation and Hate Speech Alone
Facebook’s update on its hate speech policy is a huge leap in combatting violence and hate exacerbated by the platform.
However, despite Facebook’s shortcomings in policing people’s behavior and posts on its platform, it is not its fault alone.
Holocaust denial and antisemitism alone is not new.
However, platforms like Facebook created an environment that makes it easier to spread it to bigger audiences.
The burden of creating a less hateful society, however, should be carried by the state, especially its education system.
According to studies, per the We Forum, critical thinking and more knowledge in people develop resilience to fake news.
In Finland, a country deemed most resilient to disinformation, the government focuses on strengthening its education system.
For example, FactBar, a fact-checking organization in Finland adapts fact-checking methods in the country’s schools.
Regulation of content is not enough, and misinformation and hate will always find its way back to a society, whether we like it or not.
However, if people, especially the younger ones can be equipped with the right tools and skills to fight misinformation.
Maybe, there will be less spreading of hate online.