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December 22, 2021 7:44 am

EU Lawmakers Blast Facebook for ‘Lack of Improvement’ in Removing Antisemitic Content

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A woman looks at the Facebook logo on an iPad in this photo illustration taken on June 3, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Regis Duvignau / Illustration / File. – Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) are calling on Facebook to take “immediate measures” to better combat the proliferation of antisemitic content on its platform.

In a letter sent on Dec. 16 to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and co-founder of Facebook — which was recently rebranded as Meta — and Meta COO Sheryl Sandberg, eight MEPs expressed concern about Facebook’s “lack of improvement” in removing antisemitic posts.

The MEPs said that on Nov. 9, which was also the anniversary of Kristallnacht, they tested Facebook’s “reactivity” to flagged antisemitic content by reporting posts that contained blood libels, conspiracy theories tying Jews to the COVID-19 pandemic, and Holocaust denial. They said only 11% of the reported antisemitic content was eventually removed online.

The letter stated, “There is only one conclusion one can draw out of this: most hate messages, including calls for violence, are never taken down when reported, and your services continue dismissing user reports on blatantly antisemitic content. We therefore urge you to take immediate measures to counter this increasingly worrisome phenomenon.”

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The MEPs suggested that Meta implement “strict terms of services to prevent the dissemination of hate speech online”; invest in “proper trainings for employees” so they can filter out abusive content online; and improve their tools of artificial intelligence that they claim “are – as of yet – clearly unable to detect more of the problematic content.”

They additionally told Zuckerberg and Sandberg, “You would also need to improve the supportive structure for flagging such content, take swift action when antisemitic messages are reported to you, and provide more transparency on your efforts to combat cyberhate on your platform. Much more needs to be done to tackle antisemitism on your platform and we urge you to take more proactive measures against hateful posts and abusive users.”

Frédérique Ries, vice president of the European Parliament’s Working Group Against Anti-Semitism, was one of the letter’s signatories. Ries, who is also part of the EP’s pro-European political group Renew Europe, said on Twitter, “Antisemitism is getting worse and online platforms are fertile grounds for this hate to spread.”

She added, “Today we call on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to take action; they must step up their efforts to keep antisemitic content from poisoning the online sphere. Hate has no place. Nowhere.”

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