Exclusive: Labour urges Facebook to ‘enforce its own rules’ on anti-Semitism

Exclusive: Labour urges Facebook to ‘enforce its own rules’ on anti-Semitism

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

The shadow home secretary this week insisted Facebook must do more to enforce its own rules on anti-Semitism, writes Justin Cohen.

facebook-5680215The comments from Yvette Cooper come after a petition backed by more than 19,000 people worldwide highlighting the site’s failure to remove offensive content.

Among the most shocking pages currently on the site is one entitled Jewish ritual murder – with Facebook maintaining that removing such content does not help to tackle ignorance.

Speaking exclusively to the Jewish News, Yvette Cooper said: “Facebook should be enforcing its own rules when it comes to hate-filled content on its social network. Anti-Semitic hate crimes should be tackled in all spheres of life – be it online or on the street.

There is a particular onus on large social networking websites to make sure people aren’t allowed to just get away with it. And in cases where a crime has been committed, they should cooperate with the police to make sure hate crimes do not go unpunished.”

She added: “I would urge Facebook and other social networking sites to show the utmost responsibility when it comes to enforcing their own rules.” The site’s rules, known as community standards, state: “While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.”

A Facebook spokesman said: “As you may expect in any diverse community of more than a billion people, we occasionally see people post offensive or disturbing content. Relying on objective standards is very important to us, and as such we cannot remove content on grounds of promoting false or offensive information alone.”

Of the ritual page, which was brought up by the CST chair Gerald Ronson at the charity’s annual dinner last week, they said: “Because although it’s something offensive, we have long believed that removing such content does not help to overcome ignorance. In many cases, debating this serious issues is the best way to fight prejudice.”

The recent petition to the social network’s founder Mark Zuckerberg called for the site to change its “community standards and stop the hate now”. Initiated by Swedes Anna Berg and Hanna Zion, it claimed that the number of anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist pages “are growing by the minute. Despite the option to report these pages, most reports are ignored. The pages that are allowed are vile, horrific, hateful and filled with classic anti-Semitism and Jewish stereotypes”.

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