Facebook accused of having ‘blind spot’ on Holocaust denial

An investigation found that the social media giant’s algorithm “actively promotes” Holocaust denial content


Facebook has been urged to ban Holocaust denial from its platforms after the social media giant was accused of having a “conceptual blind spot” on the issue.

An investigation by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue(ISD), a UK-based counter-extremist organisation, has found that Facebook’s algorithm “actively promotes” Holocaust denial content by recommending pages and links to organisations and individuals who are renowned for sharing these views.

The study showed that by typing “Holocaust” into the Facebook search, users were taken to pages dedicated to Holocaust denier David Irving and other groups that have questioned the Shoah.

The ISD also discovered at least 36 Facebook groups with a combined 366,068 followers which are specifically dedicated to Holocaust denial or which host such content. Researchers found that when they followed public Facebook pages containing Holocaust denial content, the platform recommended further similar content.

Jacob Davey, ISD’s senior research manager, said: “Facebook’s decision to allow Holocaust denial content to remain on its platform is framed under the guise of protecting legitimate historical debate, but this misses the reason why people engage in Holocaust denial in the first place.

“Denial of the Holocaust is a deliberate tool used to delegitimise the suffering of the Jewish people and perpetuate long-standing antisemitic tropes, and when people explicitly do this it should be seen as an act of hatred,” he added.

The ISD added the social media appeared to have a  “conceptual blind spot” on the issue.

Facebook last week announced it had banned conspiracy theories about Jewish people “controlling the world” – but it has been unwilling to categorise Holocaust denial as a form of hate speech.

But the Community Security Trust’s Head of Policy Dave Rich said: “Holocaust denial is not only a wrong opinion or bad history, it is an antisemitic conspiracy theory that claims Jews have hoaxed the entire world.

“Now that Facebook has banned antisemitic conspiracy theories, they must also ban Holocaust denial.”

Danny Stone, director  of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, said Facebook’s policy was “intellectually incoherent as it stands.”

A Facebook company spokesperson said: “We take down any post that celebrates, defends, or attempts to justify the Holocaust. The same goes for any content that mocks Holocaust victims, accuses victims of lying, spews hate, or advocates for violence against Jewish people in any way.

“We also remove groups and pages that discuss Holocaust denial from recommendations and references to it in search predictions. While we do not take down content simply for being untruthful, many posts that deny the Holocaust often violate our policies against hate speech and are removed.”


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