Monday, May 11, 2009

Why Is Facebook Tolerating Holocaust-Denial Groups?

We all know that practically everything under the sun, no matter how objectionable, can be found on the internet. However, that's why, when certain materials find their way onto websites that are privately owned and operated, it is the responsibility of those websites to assert basic previously-agreed-upon forms of editorial controls.

Keep this in mind because, as Pete Cashmore of Mashable is reporting, there are several Facebook groups that have formed with the sole intention of denying the Holocaust. Some of the groups in question include "Holocaust: A Series of Lies," and "Holocaust is a Holohoax".

Despite formal letters that have been sent to Facebook requesting that the groups be removed from the website, "Facebook's current position is that they will only block access to the groups from countries (such as Germany) where Holocaust Denial is illegal - they will not be removed in the US".

Let's clarify something. Freedom of speech is the bedrock of our modern society, and you will find no stronger advocate of it anywhere else. However, the First Amendment is not the issue here. For starters, the First Amendment is a guarantee that the government will not strip away your free speech rights, but this says nothing of private entities stipulating what form of speech is allowed and what is not within its own private confines. In other words, Facebook is completely at liberty to regulate the content of its own private website.

Second, the Facebook Terms of Service explicitly forbids the posting of "hateful" content. There is precedent to suggest the enforcement of this principle - Facebook recently used this ban on hateful speech as justification for removing a Ku Klux Klan group from the site. So if the company could do that, what excuse is there for not doing the same for a Holocaust-denial group?

(And to anyone who doubts whether the existence of these groups alone constitutes hate speech, take a quick glance at the groups' pages themselves. As Cashmore notes, there are enough threatening racist and anti-semitic comments to make the decision to remove them an easy one.)

My guess is that with enough public pressure asserted on Facebook, they will eventually relent and remove the groups in question. But it's inconceivable why Facebook would have fought this in the first place.


At 12:22 PM, Blogger Robert J. Domanski said...

And to compound this, Michale Arrington has written an incendiary post, "Jew Haters Welcome At Facebook, As Long As They Aren’t Lactating"...

"Way more countries have laws against holocaust denial (11 or so) than breast feeding (0), but guess which one is banned on Facebook? That’s right. Pictures of breast feeding babies are indecent, so they’re a no go."

To get a sense of the type of hateful messages being produced, just look at the image above this Arrington's article.

At 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holocaust denial gets my blood boiling because, amongst many obvious reasons, it's a fact that the holocaust occurred. You may as well deny gravity if you're going to deny the holocaust.

Facebook clearly is in violation of their own TOS, which makes them cowards for not acting upon these groups. That said, they are a private company and as such they can do as they please.

The best service we can do in light of this hypocrisy and downright idiocy is to call out Facebook and the idiots who participate in this nonsensical and hateful banter. The Nerfherder and other prominent bloggers who are writing on this topic, should link to these idiots' Facebook pages. These people want their messages to be heard, but they don't want to be found as individuals. It's too embarrassing for them and detrimental to their lives as mainstream human beings to be "out of the closet" deniers. Well let's give them the individual exposure they so dearly want to avoid and call them out for the scumbags they really are. Then we'll see who gets the last laugh when these hateful morons are unemployable and friendless.

At 9:07 AM, Blogger Robert J. Domanski said...

UPDATE: Facebook has confirmed that they have removed two of the five groups in question.

As to why the other three groups remain, a Facebook spokesman has said, "We are monitoring these groups and if the discussion among members degrades to the point of promoting hate or violence, despite whatever disclaimer the group description provides, we will take them down."

Check out this CNET article, which makes some interesting points...

At 12:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

can i deny that facebook is tolerating holocaust denial groups? Can we start a group to deny the denying. I should take this more seriously i suppose but if they didn't have facebook wouldn't they just go to hatebook?


Post a Comment

<< Home