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One Year After Ban on Holocaust Denial, Content Pushing False Claims About Nazi Genocide Still Rife on Facebook, ADL Says

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Holocaust denial remains rife on Facebook despite a ban. Photo: ADL

On the first anniversary of Facebook’s announcement of a ban on Holocaust denial, content pushing the false claim that the Nazi genocide was a hoax remains rife on the platform, according to a new Anti-Defamation League (ADL) report released on Tuesday.

The report observed that while Facebook had taken steps to remove the offending content, significant “cracks in enforcement” remained.

During October and November, ADL researchers conducted extensive searches on Facebook to find content that violated the ban on Holocaust denial. The researchers “flagged the antisemitic speech using the platforms’ built in reporting mechanism, flagging the offensive content through an individual user’s account.”

However, the ADL said, “as of Nov. 29, Facebook had only replied to concerns about one of the posts flagged, which called the Holocaust a fraud, and indicated that the post was not in violation of its hate speech policy.”

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According to the report, “while dedicated groups have been removed and one search term limited, Holocaust denial content remains on the platform.” The ADL discovered that the majority of Holocaust denial posts still accessible were posted prior to the October 2020 ban, yet never subsequently removed. Additionally, the ADL found “multiple instances of Holocaust denial content posted after the policy went into effect.”

The report noted that “while the term ‘Holohoax’ no longer returns results when a user searches for it, other keywords, such as ‘hollow hoax,’ ‘Holocaust Hoax,’ ‘Holocaust lies,’ ‘Holocaust fraud,’ ‘so called Holocaust,’ and ‘Holocaust didn’t happen’ are searchable and return results. Many of the recent posts that remain are re-shares of older posts, using modified language to avoid detection, and they include external links to Holocaust denial videos or articles. Many of these were shared by known Holocaust deniers and antisemites and were accompanied by antisemitic rhetoric in addition to Holocaust denial sentiments.”

Much of the Holocaust denial material on Facebook originated with a virulently antisemitic website called “Russia Insider,” the report said.

“The site has a history of pushing white supremacist, antisemitic, Holocaust denial and conspiratorial content, and was called out for its antisemitic content and links to ‘pro-government oligarchs’ in Russia,” the report said. One item published on the site and then spread on Facebook claimed that Josef Mengele — the Nazi doctor notorious for his cruel medical experiments on concentration camp inmates — was the victim of a “pack of lies” that are a part of the “Holocaust myth.”

Announcing the report’s publication, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt acknowledged that “Facebook has taken some positive steps to address the proliferation of Holocaust denial, but that doesn’t mean that the problem has gone away.”

Said Greenblatt: “There’s still a lot of Holocaust denial on Facebook. We urge the platform to take additional steps to address these cracks in enforcement as well as to ensure that the ban is more consistently applied across the platform.”

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