Facebook COO: Decision to ban Holocaust denial was absolutely correct

Facebook’s decision to ban Holocaust denial was absolutely the correct move, as such statements constitute hate speech, the social media giant’s COO Sheryl Sandberg told Jewish community leaders.

The statements were made by Sandberg at a gathering of leaders of the over 100 Jewish communities around the world that are part of the World Jewish Congress (WJC), with which Facebook has partnered to combat antisemitism and hate speech on its platform.
“Our partnership with the World Jewish Congress has been a strong partnership,” Sandberg told the WJC governor’s board, and went on to laud the success of the various cooperative campaigns and efforts. 
“We’ve worked really closely together on proactive counter-speech campaigns like #WeRemember. We’ve had hard conversations about antisemitism and hate speech, and we’re grateful for the openness and support you’ve given us as we tackled these hard issues.”
She added that “one of the best examples was the decision we made recently to ban Holocaust denial and Holocaust distortion as hate speech. It was the right decision because of the rise in antisemitism and the percentage of young people who don’t believe the Holocaust happened – which we were aghast to learn. We want to contribute to the education that’s necessary to stop this kind of hate in the first place.”  
As part of this effort to fight Holocaust denial, the platform has employed the use of artificial intelligence to quickly identify such content. 
This is reflective of the platform’s growing trend of using AI to quickly identify and delete hateful content, mitigating the use of human moderators. In fact, by using the Reinforced Integrity Optimizer (RIO), which Facebook unveiled in mid-November, 95% of hate speech is proactively identified and removed without users needing to report it all.

“Facebook has taken very positive action in facing Holocaust denial and hate speech. The major fight we have today is fighting antisemitism. It’s a battle that can’t be won, but we can have a major impact on it,” WJC president Ronald S. Lauder said at the time, adding that the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to a sharp rise in antisemitic conspiracy myths, many of which are being spread online.
Also at the WJC meeting, the governing board in a watershed moment approved the admission of the Jewish Council of the Emirates (JCE), a representative body for the Jews in the United Arab Emirates, into its global network of Jewish communities.
The JCE joins alongside other representative organizations in the Middle East and North Africa, such as the WJC affiliates in Egypt, Morocco, Bahrain and Tunisia.
“In seeking to affiliate with the World Jewish Congress, the Jewish Council of the Emirates signals to communities throughout the Jewish world that our nascent community has come of age, that in the spirit of the UAE our progress will reflect confidence, optimism and determination in building our community, reanimating Jewish-Muslim affairs and continuing to serve as a Jewish ’embassy’ in the heart of the Arabic world,” JCE president Ross Kriel said at the time. 
“Grand as this aspiration may be, we hope to take a place among the other affiliated communities of the WJC with humility and deep gratitude to Jewish leaders and communities represented in this esteemed forum and steely resolve to embark on the work that lies ahead.”
Hagay Hacohen contributed to this report.


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