Shoah educator demands Facebook tackles Holocaust denial fake news
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Shoah educator demands Facebook tackles Holocaust denial fake news

Henry Grunwald criticises social media firm for not directly responding to a letter, urging action against hate on the site

Henry Grunwald hosting the 2018 Yom Hashoa memorial event in Hyde Park. Credit: John Rifkin
Henry Grunwald hosting the 2018 Yom Hashoa memorial event in Hyde Park. Credit: John Rifkin

A leading Holocaust educationalist in the UK has expressed his “disappointment” after Facebook failed to respond directly to a letter from Jewish organisations urging the social media company to clamp down on Holocaust denial.

Barrister Henry Grunwald, a former president of the Board of Deputies who now chairs the National Holocaust Centre and Museum, was speaking after receiving no response from the tech giant.

Grunwald was among the 24 signatories to a 7 August letter chastising Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg for allowing “complete and utter falsehoods” about the Holocaust to go “systematically unchecked”.

The signatories, including heads of Holocaust organisations in the UK, US, Germany and Poland, said they offered “tangible, rapidly executable steps” to help Facebook become “part of the solution,” but have since said they were met with silence.

This week, Grunwald said: “I’m disappointed that Facebook has not been in touch with us, as we made a genuine offer to assist them in dealing with their problem over Holocaust denial.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently gave an interview in which he suggested that the social media company did not ban Holocaust denial because it was “wrong,” adding that it was sometimes not “intentionally” wrong.

Grunwald said: “If you deny the Holocaust, you don’t do it because you may innocently get a few things wrong.”

He added: “Facebook claims that it is no friend to ‘fake news.’ If it continues to provide a platform for Holocaust deniers, that is exactly what it is. We will be trying to reach Mark Zuckerberg again about this. There can be few things more fake than to deny the Holocaust.”

Responding to a request from Jewish News, a spokeswoman for Facebook earlier said: “We thank the signatories for their important letter. We take the issue of anti-Semitism and indeed any form of hate speech incredibly seriously, and find it deeply offensive.”

Referencing Zuckerberg, she continued: “As Mark has said, we know many people strongly disagree with our position – and we respect that – but it’s really important for us to engage on these issues and hear from people to understand their concerns.

“We have a team that is dedicated to developing and reviewing our policies and we welcome collaboration with industry and experts to ensure we’re getting it right.”

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