LD: There are two articles here. The second is more interesting and should not be missed. This is Deborah Lipstadt’s angry rebuttal of the view put by Facebook boss, Mark Zuckerberg, that Holocaust deniers should not be denied a limited platform for their views—views that, although offensive and obviously ridiculous, are sincerely held by a bunch of honest crackpots who like to call themselves “Holocaust revisionists” rather than “Holocaust deniers”. Lipstadt takes a sterner view. Anyone who denies the Holocaust, she believes, is a dangerous criminal who would like to see all Jews exterminated. The only way to treat such malefactors, she argues, is with zero tolerance.
ARTICLE 1 :
“Holocaust deniers are deeply offensive . . . “
” . . . but I don’t think they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”
Facebook will continue to offer a platform to Holocaust deniers, Infowars, and other publishers of hoaxes on the assumption that they are sincere in their beliefs, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.
Speaking to Recode’s Kara Swisher on her podcast, Zuckerberg, who is Jewish, said that Holocaust deniers are “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,” Zuckerberg continued. “I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”
Swisher said that, in fact, Holocaust deniers likely were intentionally misleading people. Zuckerberg said that Facebook could not understand the intent of those publishers and would not try:
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.”
What we will do is we’ll say, “Okay, you have your page, and if you’re not trying to organize harm against someone, or attacking someone, then you can put up that content on your page, even if people might disagree with it or find it offensive.” But that doesn’t mean that we have a responsibility to make it widely distributed in News Feed.
This is not a new position. Facebook has been defending the rights of Holocaust deniers since at least 2009 when it faced criticism for hosting a variety of anti-Semitic pages. At the time, a spokesman said, “We want [Facebook] to be a place where people can discuss all kinds of ideas, including controversial ones.”
Zuckerberg’s comments on the podcast came a day after a hearing in which his global head of policy management was called before Congress to explain its content moderation policies. While the hearing was originally intended to investigate the false idea that tech platforms systematically suppress conservative viewpoints, it ended with a bipartisan group of lawmakers pressuring Facebook to ban more accounts, including Infowars.
Last week, CNN’s Oliver Darcy questioned how Facebook could be sincere in its stated efforts to reduce the spread of false news stories while it also offered sites like Infowars a place to develop a large following and routinely distribute hoaxes.
Zuckerberg said one of Facebook’s core principles is “giving people a voice,” and it preferred to limit the distribution of hoaxes rather than ban them outright.
There are really two core principles at play here. There’s giving people a voice, so that people can express their opinions. Then, there’s keeping the community safe, which I think is really important. We’re not gonna let people plan violence or attack each other or do bad things. Within this, those principles have real trade-offs and real tug on each other. In this case, we feel like our responsibility is to prevent hoaxes from going viral and being widely distributed.
The approach that we’ve taken to false news is not to say, you can’t say something wrong on the internet. I think that that would be too extreme. Everyone gets things wrong, and if we were taking down people’s accounts when they got a few things wrong, then that would be a hard world for giving people a voice and saying that you care about that. But at the same time, I think that we have a responsibility to, when you look at… if you look at the top hundred things that are going viral or getting distribution on Facebook within any given day, I do think we have a responsibility to make sure that those aren’t hoaxes and blatant misinformation.
Infowars, which has nearly 1 million followers on Facebook, routinely denies the reality of mass shootings and promotes the idea that the FBI and other institutions are plotting to overthrow President Donald Trump. In 2016, Mother Jones found seven cases in which Infowars fans had committed acts of violence.
Update, 4:43 p.m.: Zuckerberg sought to clarify his remarks with an email to Swisher later in the day:
I enjoyed our conversation yesterday, but there’s one thing I want to clear up. 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. If something is spreading and is rated false by fact checkers, it would lose the vast majority of its distribution in News Feed. And of course if a post crossed line into advocating for violence or hate against a particular group, it would be removed. These issues are very challenging but I believe that often the best way to fight offensive bad speech is with good speech.
Deborah Lipstadt: Holocaust Deniers Should be Censored and Punished
LD: Holocaust denial should be banned, Lipstadt believes, because denying the Holocaust sends the wrong message. It suggests that all the eyewitnesses and survivors are lying, which of course is just not possible. And why on earth would Germany admit its guilt and pay compensation to survivors if the Holocaust never happened?
Holocaust deniers are bad people
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, recently described Holocaust denial as people who have simply gotten things “wrong” but not “intentionally” wrong. After all, he insisted, “I [also] get things wrong.” He will not remove their posts from Facebook, “if they get things wrong, even multiple times.” In the same interview, he points out that he himself is Jewish and he will not ban Holocaust deniers, just as he has not banned the conspiracy site InfoWars.
While Zuckerberg later clarified that he “personally” finds denial “deeply offensive,” regarding deniers, he has gotten things about history’s best documented genocide wrong, very wrong.
What Zuckerberg fails to understand — even though he claims this was not his aim — is that by saying deniers aren’t “intentionally” getting things wrong, he leaves open the possibility that they could be right. For someone with Zuckerberg’s massive profile and platform, this is breathtakingly irresponsible. Holocaust denial relies on such a robust set of illogical untruths that it is only possible to be a denier on purpose.
For deniers to be right, who would have to be wrong? Survivors would have to be wrong — as well as bystanders, those non-Jews who lived in the cities and villages in eastern and western Europe and watched their Jewish neighbors being marched away to be shot and killed in freshly dug ditches in the woods. The scores of historians who have studied the Holocaust since 1945 would either have to be part of a massive conspiracy or have been completely duped.
But, above all, the perpetrators, some of whom have admitted their guilt, would have to be wrong. How can deniers explain that in not one war-crimes trial since the end of World War II has a perpetrator of any nationality denied that these events occurred? They may have said, “I was forced to kill,” but not one asserted that the killing did not happen.
Finally, why has Germany shouldered the enormous moral and financial responsibility for the crimes committed in the Holocaust, if it did not happen? According to deniers, there is a simple answer to this question: German officials were forced into a false admission of guilt by “the Jews,” who threatened to prevent Germany’s reentry into the family of nations.
But this, too, makes little sense. German leaders knew that admitting to genocide would impose upon the nation a horrific legacy that would become an integral part of its national identity. Why would a country take on such a historical burden if it was innocent, under any circumstances? Moreover, it’s now been 70 years since the end of the war and Germany is now a global political and economic leader. It could easily say now that “it’s not true; the Jews made us say this back in 1945.” Instead, the German government created a massive memorial in Berlin to the murdered Jews of Europe that opened in 2005.
Deniers rely on yet another bit of illogic. Often they demand to be shown Hitler’s written order authorizing the murder of all of Europe’s Jews. In all likelihood, there is none. Hitler realized the folly of affixing his signature to such an order, which, had it become public, might have caused him many problems. More important, historians are untroubled by the absence of such a document. They never rest their conclusions on one document, particularly in this instance, when there is a vast cache of evidence attesting to a government-directed program of mass annihilation. Deniers, of course, insist that “the Jews” have forged these documents. But if that were the case, why didn’t they also forge the Hitler order?
The list of illogical arguments goes on.
Deniers contend that had the Third Reich, a regime they describe as the epitome of efficiency and power, wished to murder all the Jews, it would have ensured that no witnesses remained alive to testify about the death camps. Therefore, the fact that there were survivors alive at the war’s end constitutes proof that there was no genocide and that the survivors’ testimonies are lies. The fallacious nature of this argument is self-evident. The Third Reich was also intent on winning the war, which it did not do. Therefore, the assumption that the Third Reich succeeded at all it set out to do is false. Anything based on that premise is equally false.
Deniers are a new type of neo-Nazi. Unlike previous generations of neo-Nazis — people who celebrated Hitler’s birthday, sported SS-like uniforms, and hung swastikas at meetings where they would give the Sieg Heil salute — this cohort eschews all that. Wolves in sheep’s clothing, they don’t bother with the physical trappings of Nazism — salutes, songs, and banners — but proclaim themselves “revisionists” — serious scholars who simply wished to correct “mistakes” in the historical record. This is extremism posing as rational discourse.
His statements suggest that Zuckerberg has been duped by them into thinking that they’re any different than someone who proudly wears a swastika.
People generally differentiate between facts and opinions — as the saying goes, you can have your own opinions, but not your own facts. But in the case of deniers, there are facts, opinions, and lies. In 2000, when I was on trial in London for libel, having been sued by David Irving — then one of the world’s leading Holocaust deniers — for having called him a denier in one of my books, my defense team tracked all of his “proofs” back to their sources and found that imbedded in each of his historical claims was a falsification, invention, distortion, change of date, or some other form of untruth. Once these lies were exposed, his arguments collapsed.
Holocaust denial is not about history. A form of antisemitism, it’s about attacking, discrediting, and demonizing Jews. The deniers’ claims — that the Jews planted evidence, got German prisoners of war to falsely admit to crimes, and forced post-war Germany to shoulder a tremendous financial and moral burden — are predicated on the notion of the mythical power of the Jews, which was extensive enough to realize this vast conspiracy. These assertions rely on classic antisemitic tropes, some of which are over 2,000 years old.
Deniers, who today clearly feel more emboldened than ever before, are not the equivalents of flat-earth theorists, nor are they just plain loonies. As a person who created and provides a platform for the dissemination of information on an awesome scale, Zuckerberg must recognize that theirs is not a cognitive error or a regrettable misinterpretation or failure in judgment that can be rectified by showing them documentation or evidence.
They are white supremacists and antisemites. Their agenda is to reinforce and spread the very hatred that produced the Holocaust.