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Mark Zuckerberg defends Holocaust deniers and says he won’t censor them

Josh Jackman July 19, 2018
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers his speech during the VivaTech (Viva Technology) trade fair in Paris, on May 24, 2018. (Photo by GERARD JULIEN / AFP) (Photo credit should read GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images)

Zuckerberg said: "Everyone gets things wrong" (GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty)

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.

Pink triangle at concentration camp
Gay men in a Nazi concentration camp

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.”

TOPSHOT - Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaves the Elysee presidential palace, in Paris, on May 23, 2018 following a meeting with French President on the day of the "Tech for Good" summit. (Photo by Alain JOCARD / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
“I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong” (ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty)

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.

Tens of thousands of gay men were tortured, castrated, imprisoned and killed during the Holocaust

“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.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a press conference in Paris on May 23, 2018. (Photo by BERTRAND GUAY / AFP)        (Photo credit should read BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)
Zuckerberg has come under fire for allowing fake news to spread on Facebook (BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty)

“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.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to attend a meeting with the French president at the Elysee Palace in Paris on May 23, 2018. - Fresh from saying "sorry" to European lawmakers, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg holds talks with the president on May 22 where he will face renewed pressure over his company's tax policies. (Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP)        (Photo credit should read LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images)
The Facebook CEO’s original comments have sparked outrage (LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty)

The effects of the Holocaust are still being felt by many in the LGBT community.

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.

Wolfgang Lauinger was denied compensation (Creative Commons)

However, Lauinger was not granted compensation despite being one of the first hearings of the law.

His application was turned down by the justice ministry because he had been acquitted in 1950.

More: Facebook, Gay, Holocaust, Internet, Mark Zuckerberg, Nazis, social media, US, US

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