Facebook has long struggled to remove hate speech from its platform — or to even define what constitutes hate speech at all. That’s why it was encouraging this week when the company’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg took to his personal page to explain why he was reversing his controversial stance on Holocaust denial content to officially ban it from the platform.
Two years ago, Zuckerberg made waves when he said that he wouldn’t advocate for automatically removing Holocaust denial content, saying that while he found it offensive, he didn’t believe the people behind it were “intentionally getting it wrong.” However, rising rates of extremism and violence around the world seem to have finally changed Zuck’s mind.
“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 wrote on his Facebook page. “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.”
Considering that Facebook has long shirked its responsibility to moderate speech on its platform, this is an encouraging development. Hopefully the company gets this aggressive with other forms of hate speech, too.
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