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Zuckerberg clarifies stance on Facebook policy for Holocaust deniers

| Wednesday, July 18, 2018, 10:48 p.m.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg pauses while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington.

NEW YORK — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is clarifying his stance pertaining to Holocaust deniers after getting some blowback on social media.

Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, said in an interview with Recode that Facebook posts denying the Holocaust took place would not be removed automatically. Zuckerberg said he thinks that there are things “that different people get wrong,” and that he doesn’t think they are “intentionally” getting it wrong.

Those comments landed with a thud online. The Anti-Defamation League said that Facebook has a “moral and ethical obligation” not to allow people to disseminate Holocaust denial on its platform.

Zuckerberg later sent an email to the Recode interviewer, Kara Swisher, attempting to expand on what he had said.

“I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that,” Zuckerberg wrote in the email, which was published by Recode.

Facebook has struggled over the past year to explain what it will and won’t allow on its service after a series of high-profile mistakes. For instance, human rights groups say Facebook has mounted an inadequate response to hate speech and the incitement of violence against Muslim minorities in Myanmar.

In April, Facebook announced new public guidelines mirroring the rules its reviewers use to decide whether posts run afoul of prohibitions against harassment, violent threats, explicit sexuality and other forbidden categories.

Facebook had previously shied away from providing this level of detail about its “community guidelines.”

The portion of the Wednesday interview was about hate speech and its potential effects in regions of strife. Swisher told Zuckerberg that in the case of Holocaust deniers, their remarks may be intentionally wrong. Zuckerberg responded by saying that “it’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent.”

The goal of Facebook is not to prevent someone from saying something untrue, Zuckerberg said, but to stop fake news from spreading across the social network.

If something is deemed to be fake, he said, it might remain on the site but it would be pushed down in the news feed so fewer people would see it.

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