Facebook finally cracks down on Holocaust deniers with new rules

Following substantial criticism, Facebook has finally decided to ban Holocaust denial-related content from its platform, announcing new restrictions and rules that will target these posts under the company's hate speech policies. This marks a reversal on the company's stance regarding Holocaust deniers and their content, with Facebook previously allowing such posts to remain on its social platforms.

The announcement was made by Facebook VP of Content Policy Monika Bickert on Monday. According to Bickert, Facebook has updated its hate speech policy to ban any content that 'denies or distorts' the Holocaust, a move that follows the company's recent full-scale ban on QAnon conspiracy theory content — a ban that itself followed a weaker move against the content in August.

Mark Zuckerberg weighed in on the matter in a Facebook post of his own today, stating that:

I've struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust. 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 decision to ban the content isn't surprising given the amount of criticism Facebook has faced. The company has been increasingly accused of offering a platform through which many people have become radicalized through a combination of misinformation, disinformation, and algorithm-facilitated 'echo chambers.'

Facebook has taken a number of steps to address the content problem it faces, including using third-party fact-checkers. However, the company has, until very recently, largely taken a hands-off approach to dealing with content like Holocaust denial, anti-vaxxers, and similar things, citing free expression and such.

The full QAnon ban announced earlier this month hinted at a change in how things will work going forward, something underscored by this new announcement.