Mark Zuckerberg defends Holocaust deniers and says he won’t censor them
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has defended the right of Holocaust deniers to post lies on the social network.
The site, which allegedly removed a viral video of a man shouting homophobic abuse at a lesbian couple this week, has attracted criticism for allowing hate and false information to spread on the platform.
This has included pages, groups and posts claiming falsely that the Holocaust – in which millions of minorities were murdered, including gay men who were tortured, castrated, imprisoned and killed – didn’t happen.
But in an interview with Recode, Zuckerberg said Holocaust deniers don’t post lies on purpose.
“The approach that we’ve taken to false news is not to say, you can’t say something wrong on the internet,” said the 34-year-old multibillionaire.
“I think that that would be too extreme. Everyone gets things wrong.”
Bringing up the Nazi genocide unprompted, he said: “I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened.
“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,” he explained.
“I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”
Zuckerberg added: “It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent.
“I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do.
“I’m sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too, and I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say: ‘We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.’
The CEO has since responded to the backlash to these remarks, saying: “I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.
“Our goal with fake news is not to prevent anyone from saying something untrue – but to stop fake news and misinformation spreading across our services.”
Zuckerberg added: “These issues are very challenging but I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech.”
But he emphasised in the original interview that his company intended to focus on posts which could provoke violence, rather than simply just hateful lies.
He said: “We are moving towards the policy of misinformation that is aimed at or going to induce violence, we are going to take down… if it’s going to result in real harm, real physical harm, or if you’re attacking individuals, then that content shouldn’t be on the platform.”
The effects of the Holocaust are still being felt by many in the LGBT community.
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Last year, 99-year-old gay man Wolfgang Lauinger, who was persecuted by the Nazi regime for being gay, died without receiving compensation.
Germany’s government has moved to rescind the convictions of 50,000 men sentenced for homosexuality under a Nazi-era law and set aside 30 million euros to compensate the estimated 5,000 convicted men who are still alive.
However, Lauinger was not granted compensation despite being one of the first hearings of the law.