Holocaust survivors ask Facebook to remove negationist content

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Holocaust survivors call on Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to remove denialist content from the social network, in a video message posted Wednesday.

Nine survivors testify in the video posted on the largest social network in the world, including Eva Schloss, half-sister of Anne Frank, now aged 91. It was carried out in partnership with the Claims Conference, an organization created in 1951 in particular to work to recover looted property.

“When people say online that the Holocaust never happened, they say that my father, my sister and sixty members of my family were not murdered by the Nazis,” says Lea Evron, today 85 years old.

Of Polish origin, she escaped the extermination camps, along with her mother, when her father and sister were deported in 1943.

“Those who say that the Holocaust did not exist call me a liar,” sums up Sidney Zoltak, also of Polish origin, who escaped the camps by hiding in villages in Poland.

In a document published in early July, the anti-Semitism organization Anti Defamation League (ADL) gave several examples of Facebook groups in which users openly questioned the existence of the Holocaust or its extent.

Among them was the CODOH group or “committee for an open debate on the Holocaust”, where messages were still visible on Wednesday denying that the genocide of the Jews of Europe did indeed take place during the Second World War.

In the United States, revisionism and negationism are not prohibited by law and jurisprudence tends to place them under the protection of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression.

In many European states, on the other hand, revisionist or negationist remarks are liable to criminal prosecution.

In July 2018, Mark Zuckerberg, who is himself Jewish, explained that he did not want to remove denialist posts from Facebook.

Asked by AFP, Facebook said it was removing any content that “defended” the Holocaust, “tried to justify it”, “accused victims of lying” or incited hatred or violence against Jews.

But the platform does not remove content “only because it is false,” said a spokesperson, and therefore does not remove negationist content, even if it seeks to limit its propagation on the platform.

“Hate speech”

The Claims Conference plans to upload a video of a survivor every day “until Facebook acts,” said a spokeswoman, explaining that more than 70 messages were already ready.

The organization indicates having asked Mark Zuckerberg to meet survivors to listen to their story “and understand why denial is hate speech,” said the spokesperson.

In June, the social network found itself under fire from criticism when several associations defending the rights of minorities called for a boycott of the platform to get it better control of content inciting hatred, racism or violence.

After the withdrawal of several large advertisers, the CEO has committed that the site will withdraw advertisements presenting certain minorities as a threat to the safety or health of the greatest number.

He also promised that the social network would warn users when certain messages or content posted on Facebook violate its rules.

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