Facebook bans harmful stereotypes about Jews ‘running the world’

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Facebook bans harmful stereotypes about Jews ‘running the world’

Companies urged to adopt International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance of definition

The logo of social media giant  Facebook. Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
The logo of social media giant Facebook. Photo credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Facebook announced this week a new ban on some forms of “implicit hate speech” including harmful stereotypes about Jews “running the world.”

The social media giant, which according to Reuters counts 2.7 billion monthly active users,  revealed on Tuesday changes to its hate speech policy.

The policy update will prohibit some “harmful stereotypes that have historically been used to attack, intimidate or exclude specific group”, Facebook said.

The ban includes depictions of “Jewish people running the world or controlling major institutions such as media networks, the economy or the government”, as well as racist caricatures of Black people in the form of blackface.

Facebook executive Guy Rosen said such depictions have “always gone against the spirit of our hate speech policies but it can be really difficult to take concepts, especially those that are commonly expressed in imagery and define them in a way that allows our content reviewers based around the world to consistently and fairly identify violations.”

The move follows a consultation in the past year with dozens of experts, including historians, social psychologists, and communal groups, he said.

Facebook’s community standards report says the platform took action against 9.6 million posts containing hate speech between January and March.

In the second quarter, the number went up to 22.5 million posts – of which 94.5 percent was detected before online users reported it, the report says

Social media companies have faced growing calls to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism (IHRA), which is backed by dozens of countries around the world but has been opposed by some critics, who view it as stifling freedom of expression.

On Tuesday, the French Jewish umbrella group CRIF urged firms including Google, Twitter and Facebook, to use the definition, while the European Jewish Congress tweeted that if Facebook is “unable to define #antisemitism in order to banish it from its walls, then the most effective way to identify it is for it to adopt the @TheIHRA definition.”

Twitter said on Wednesday it drew from IHRA’s work when creating its content policy and is consulting with government and other groups to stamp out antisemitism.

Last week close to 130 Jewish groups and pro-Israel organisations backed a letter petitioning Facebook to adopt the IHRA definition.

In the UK, the Community Security Trust (CST) said the definition “provides a useful, practical guide to identifying potentially antisemitic language and imagery.”

“As such we would encourage any organisation or company that may need to address complaints of antisemitism to use it,” the charity told Jewish News on Tuesday.

Last month, the CST was among UK leaders calling on Facebook and Twitter executives to do more to tackle hate after the social networks were criticised for the speed of their response to antisemitic posts by Grime artist Wiley.

A letter, signed by the CST, the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, challenged the two websites to implement new measures to combat online antisemitism, such as adopting the definition.

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