The Anti-Defamation League is urging the Facebook Oversight Board to overturn Facebook’s decision to leave up public posts that the anti-hate group says are spreading antisemitism in violation of the company’s rules against hate speech.
“Facebook’s inaction has helped spread hatred of Jews and has contributed to historical high levels of antisemitism in America and antisemitism online and offline across the globe,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League said in a letter to the Facebook Oversight Board shared exclusively with USA TODAY.
Last month, the Anti-Defamation League says, Facebook rejected its request to remove seven public posts for running afoul of the company’s policy prohibiting attacks based on race, ethnicity, national origin and religious affiliation.
Greenblatt says the posts traffic in conspiracies and tropes that have been used for centuries to “to justify persecution, from pogroms under Czarist governments, to genocide under the Nazi regime, to shootings in this country.”
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Among them posts was a quote from Nazi propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, the statement “Hitler Was Right” in reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and photos of Jewish politicians, journalists and other public figures superimposed with the yellow Star of David.
“We request that the Oversight Board overturn this decision and send a clear message that antisemitism has no place on Facebook,” Greenblatt wrote.
The letter also asks the Facebook Oversight Board to direct Facebook to “provide sufficient resources and make necessary product changes to enforce currently existing policies at scale.”
“Both ADL and the Facebook Community Standards team recognize that there is a clear connection between online antisemitic, racist and hateful images and tropes reverberating on Facebook and offline hate and violence directed at marginalized communities,” the ADL letter reads.
Facebook says hate speech on its platforms is decreasing.
“We are horrified by the dramatic rise in antisemitism around the world. We prohibit hate speech on our platform and over the past year, we’ve taken additional steps to combat rising antisemitism, including banning antisemitic stereotypes,” Facebook said in a statement to USA TODAY. “We also use other tools to fight antisemitism such as banning dangerous organizations and individuals and preventing the incitement of violence and the coordination of harm.”
Criticism that Facebook has not done enough to stop hate from spreading has intensified in recent months and years.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg drew a sharp backlash when he defended the rights of Holocaust deniers to air their views on Facebook in 2018.
In October, Zuckerberg reversed course, pledging that Facebook would ban content that “denies or distorts the Holocaust” after seeing data showing an increase in antisemitic violence.
Facebook says it rolled out a new tool in January to provide authoritative information about the Holocaust. Anyone who searches in English on Facebook for terms associated with the Holocaust or Holocaust denial sees a message nudging them to a website created by the World Jewish Congress and UNESCO.
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In January, an ADL report gave Facebook a “D” for its efforts to remove Holocaust denial content. Greenblatt said at the time that Facebook and other major social media platforms are “still struggling to address antisemitism and Holocaust denial effectively.”
The ADL warned last month that the military confrontation between Israel and Hamas had increased the number of antisemitic posts on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.
Jewish groups have expressed alarm over a surge in anti-Jewish hate crimes in the U.S. spurred by the conflict.