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Antisemitic hate posts allowed by Facebook

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Source: The Times

Antisemitic posts claiming that the Holocaust is a lie and that Jews are “barbaric and unsanitary” remain on Facebook despite being flagged to the social media company, an investigation by The Times has found.

Cartoons that depict Jewish people as hook-nosed cockroaches, links to a website selling “holohoax” books banned by mainstream retailers and fan pages for a convicted Holocaust denier are also accessible.

Facebook’s community guidelines class antisemitic material as hate speech and the company says that it is committed to removing posts that are reported. However, it does not consider Holocaust denial hate speech.

The Times found scores of examples of material designed to incite hatred and violence against Jews. Some of it had already been flagged to the company. When the material was highlighted to Facebook yesterday some was taken down but several antisemitic posts and pages remained up last night.

Among the content removed was a photograph of a Jewish woman with text that includes: “I have the power to genocide the entire White race . . . deliberately corrupting their children, destroying their families.”

Another, which remained, showed a Star of David with the caption “the worst cancer I’ve ever seen”.

Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, was criticised this month for suggesting that Holocaust denial material should be allowed as people were not “intentionally getting it wrong”. He said: “If we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice.”

Some $119 billion was wiped off the value of Facebook yesterday — the biggest one-day fall in US corporate history — as it reported growth far below expectations. Analysts said that the public were losing trust in the company after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, in which Facebook profiles were used without consent to target American voters with political adverts.

Facebook is also attempting to address the problems it has had with fake news by running an advertising campaign promising to do better.

Damian Collins, chairman of the culture, media and sport select committee, said: “This yet again highlights the deep chasm between the text of Facebook’s own community guidelines and the action that it fails to take to implement them. These disgraceful antisemitic posts have no place in society and no place on social media.

“Hiding behind freedom of speech has long been the defence of social media companies, but there is absolutely no excuse for the hosting of this vile content on Facebook. I urge Facebook to finally take action and properly implement its community guidelines.”

Yvette Cooper, chairwoman of the home affairs select committee, said: “Facebook are providing people with a huge global platform to incite racial hatred and to deliberately spread lies that fuel antisemitism.

“They can’t just shrug their shoulders and pretend it has nothing to do with them. What is the point of them even pretending to have community standards or social responsibility if they turn a blind eye to the promotion of violence and extremism?”

David Ibsen, executive director of the Counter Extremism Project, said: “Facebook not only allows Holocaust deniers and antisemitism to continue to be freely available online but Mr Zuckerberg is using freedom of expression as his excuse. These antisemitic views are against Facebook’s own community guidelines. We urge Facebook to take meaningful and urgent action to ensure their platform is not used for encouraging violent and illegal activity like this.”

A spokeswoman for Facebook said that it did not allow antisemitic hate speech or incitement of violence of any kind, even though some posts remained up after being flagged. Last night the platform removed some of the posts highlighted by The Times after a review found that they violated its policies relating to hate speech.