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Facebook fuels hate

This, by Julia Carrie Wong, was written in 2017.

Facebook groups – like any social capital – can just as easily be used for ill as good. And social capital is not an unalloyed good. A 2013 study by New York University political scientist Shanker Satyanath, Bowling for Fascism, found that dense networks of social organizations and clubs in Germany helped promote the spread of nazism. And even a cursory search of Facebook unearths networks of extremists using groups to recruit and organize.

And this is from the same paper this week.

Last Wednesday Facebook announced it was banning conspiracy theories about Jewish people “controlling the world”. However, it has been unwilling to categorise Holocaust denial as a form of hate speech, a stance that ISD describe as a “conceptual blind spot”.

The ISD also discovered at least 36 Facebook groups with a combined 366,068 followers which are specifically dedicated to Holocaust denial or which host such content. Researchers found that when they followed public Facebook pages containing Holocaust denial content, Facebook recommended further similar content.

…A Facebook company spokesperson said: “We take down any post that celebrates, defends, or attempts to justify the Holocaust. The same goes for any content that mocks Holocaust victims, accuses victims of lying, spews hate, or advocates for violence against Jewish people in any way.

You’ll note that the words “Holocaust denial” aren’t in that statement. Facebook continues:

While we do not take down content simply for being untruthful, many posts that deny the Holocaust often violate our policies against hate speech and are removed.

And many posts that deny the Holocaust do not violate Facebook’s policies and are not removed. I’ve seen this myself: I’ve given up reporting Facebook hate speech, including posts containing Holocaust denial videos, because every time I did Facebook came back and said that the content did not violate their community guidelines.

When historians write about our era, they will conclude that Mark Zuckerberg was one of the bad guys.