Facebook Bans Holocaust Denial. Zuck Can Haz Cookie Now?
"Today we are updating our hate speech policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust," Facebook announced today, October 12, in the year 2020.
Slowest of slow claps for Mark Zuckerberg, who finally seems to have grokked that allowing dangerous conspiracy theories to spread unchecked on his platform in the name of "free speech" is a flawed business model. Sure it took an American election ratfucked by a hostile foreign power, a genocide in Myanmar, and multiple acts of domestic terrorism organized on its platform. But he finally got there, sort of.
Slowest of slow claps.
"I'm Jewish, and there's a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened," Zuckerberg told Kara Swisher in July of 2018. "I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don't believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong."
"I don't think that they're intentionally getting it wrong," he continued, painting a picture of a kinder, gentler anti-Semite, who sincerely believes the Holocaust was a hoax and Jews control the monetary system for their own, nefarious ends. Less a drunken Mel Gibson than your sweet Aunt Millie, who never did cotton to race mixing and has adorably strange ideas about Alan Greenspan. Can't censor Aunt Millie, can we?
That interview was three months before a man burst into the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and shot eleven people during Saturday morning services because he believed Jews were responsible for sponsoring a caravan of Central American migrants to overthrow America. And while the shooter (may his name and memory be erased) made explicit threats on Gab, mainstream Republican politicians like Matt Gaetz and Kevin McCarthy were pushing similar bullshit speculations about George Soros, including on Facebook.
And they're still at it. How many thousands of people shared posts claiming a rented U-Haul was scientific proof that George Soros was bankrolling racial justice protestors?
The online right is absolutely obsessed with a video of a U-Haul in Louisville, convinced George Soros emptied out… https://t.co/bGpMi5kFb0— Ben Collins (@Ben Collins)1600970576.0
So big mazal to Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg on their belated change of heart. And nice to see that they finally took some action on the re-warmed Protocols of the Elders of Zion/Blood Libel mashup that is QAnon. Too bad hundreds of thousands of people had already been brainwashed before you guys creaked into action, though.
"I've struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust," Zuckerberg writes, praising his own thoughtful approach. "My own thinking has evolved as I've seen data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence, as have our wider policies on hate speech. Drawing the right lines between what is and isn't acceptable speech isn't straightforward, but with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance."
The current state of the world.
THE CURRENT STATE OF THE WORLD?
How the hell does Mark Zuckerberg think the world got so broken? Might it have something to do with amoral billionaires constructing superhighways to rush jolt after jolt of incendiary junk news into the world's cerebral cortex 24/7?
"According to a recent survey of adults in the US aged 18-39, almost a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren't sure," Facebook's VP of content policy said this morning in her announcement, with the air of someone hastily pulling up her pants and wondering aloud what kind of cretin dropped that turd in the punch bowl.
And Mark Zuckerberg can fap vapidly about "standing for free expression," but he's no warrior for free speech. He runs a business that monetizes eyeballs — the only question is what speech is sufficiently odious that he'll refuse to turn it into cold hard cash. And for the past 16 years, the answer has been almost none.
On a personal note, I deleted Facebook in 2018 after Sheryl Sandberg tried to cast George Soros's criticism of the company's abysmal failures during the 2016 election as an attempt to enrich himself by betting against Facebook's stock. You momzers aren't leaning in to my eyeball bucks after that.
So, yes, on balance it's a good thing that Facebook has "banned anti-Semitic stereotypes about the collective power of Jews that often depicts them running the world or its major institutions" and "will direct anyone to credible information off Facebook if they search for terms associated with the Holocaust or its denial on our platform." But perhaps it could have done something before a quarter of the country believed that (((we))) — as in Zuckerberg, Sandberg, and yours truly — were part of a shadowy cabal, making up stories about our dead ancestors in a plot to control the world's wealth.
But congrats to Facebook on finally shutting the barn door when it realized its patron saint was probably going to lose in three weeks. Maybe they even managed to keep one or two of the horses in there. Here's hoping we don't all get trampled by the ones already loosed on the world.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.