You remember that feeling when you’ve done something kinda wrong, and you kinda get caught doing it, and everyone yells at you for doing it, and instead of just shrugging your shoulders, admitting you goofed, and moving on, you back yourself into a corner and fight tooth and nail for it? As far as I can tell, this is Facebook’s situation with not removing Holocaust Denial groups. Before I dive in, I want to thank Michael Arrington for keeping this topic alive and his ardent support of the issue.
Here are the key issues as I see them:
First, regarding Holocaust Denial. Here’s the results of the Google search for “is holocaust denial the same as anti semitism?” The answer is a resounding YES. Fundamentally, while there are many anti-Semites who do not deny the Holocaust, there are no Holocaust Deniers who are not anti-Semites.
Second, regarding Censorship/Freedom of Speech. Freedom of speech is a government issue, not a private company issue. Private companies may censor away, and they may do so legally. Facebook can choose to do whatever they want. Further, even free speech advocate Alan Dershowitz agrees.
Third, regarding precedent. Facebook doesn’t allow the Ku Klux Klan to have a group. Breastfeeding women pictures are banned. In other words, Facebook can identify hate groups and content they don’t like and has already taken it down. This is a crucial issue to me. Had Facebook never taken any proactive content cleansing actions in the past, I think they could sit safely on the sidelines. Instead, they are basically taking the position that the KKK is bad, but a Holocaust Denial group is not.
Fourth, regarding actions. I’ve seen numerous commentators (on TC) ask the equivalent of “are we supposed to monitor every conversation for anti-Semitic content and delete those too? Nope. This isn’t about one-to-one discussions, nor even private groups. This is about public groups, which rapidly turn into breeding grounds for hate crimes (which is why FB turned off the KKK’s groups).
Fifth, regarding public vs private discourse. Another issue I’ve noticed is the claim to the effect of “why bother taking down the group, this kind of hate happens anyway, and it’s better to be out in the public.” The argument here, of course, implies that if we can see the discussions these people are having, we can keep an eye on them for potential actions they might take. This is one of the silliest positions I can imagine taking, as if those who are about to commit hate crimes are just so unbelievably stupid they would do so in public. Utter rubbish.
I’ve been trying to rack my brain as to why Facebook would continue to maintain their position on this one. It certainly seems odd to me that the decision-makers here really believe leaving the groups up is the right thing to do. As I’ve looked back on other actions FB’s taken in the past, I’ve noticed one trend that seems to make the most sense in this craziness: FB doesn’t like being told what to do by anyone. They do a (crappy) site redesign, get told by the media and users alike, and stand proud. They take down pictures of nursing moms, get vilified by the press and women’s groups, and stand proud. And here we are again, doing a wrong, getting caught, getting called out on it, and again, standing proud.
On one more tangent here: personally I don’t get how anyone can be proud that they are standing up for some of the worst people on Earth. I wish they wouldn’t. There’s enough places for hateful people to rally together and commit atrocities. Facebook could decide they stand for the right thing, not the wrong.
I think they either need to do the right thing and take down these groups, or stop taking down the KKK groups and nursing moms pictures. As was eloquently said, you can’t get a woman half-pregnant.
Hmmmm, not sure that I agree with you on this one. I kind of look at the situation in the same way that I look at the ACLU. I may not agree with this particular topic, but I do think that we should be able to have an open discussion about whatever we want on the web. It’d be one thing to create adult filters to try and set up a sanitized version of Facebook, but to try and prevent someone from talking about something seems to go too far in my opinion. Obviously this is a very emotional topic for some people, but if you don’t want to take part in this particular conversation, it’s easy enough to avoid having to see it. This doesn’t necessarily excuse people’s behavior, but for better or worse I’d rather have a free for all, then a sanitized environment where you can’t push the boundries or else risk getting kicked off the service.
I’m a bit bummed they blocked those lactating women. 😉
The assumption that all people killed in the Holocaust were jewish or semetic is wrong. I am not actually sure if the actual numbers can ever be detemined, but we have to agree, that some non-jewish persons were exterminated.
I personally can not think of any historical event of this magnitude, that is not subject to debate or question, why should this be any different? If the evidence is self evident, debate should be welcomed, not silenced.
You even summed up your own bias, in your own argument: “All Holocaust deniers are anti-Semites”. Does that mean everyone that agrees with you is a “Smart, dashing, and pretty good looking fellow?”
How about this; I believe Rome was built in a day, and if you disagree with me, you must be a racist!!!! No you are not allowed to discuss the issue, you are not allowed to even speak of it, nor are you allowed to post about it, or we will try to drum you out of town.
Personally, I do not deny the holocaust happenned, but I think there are facets of it that can be examined. Think about it like this, one of the single greatest tragedies of all time, and no one even wants to discuss it?
@Davis – I understand your perspective on open communication, but as I said, they can choose to NOT ban other content or ban selectively. if they ban selectively, this should be included.
@Walt – Actually its not wrong, others were killed in WW2, and by Nazis, and in horrible ways, but that’s not what the Holocaust refers to. Perhaps you should read some more background on the topic: http://www.adl.org/Holocaust/introduction.asp.
What facets specifically would you like to examine?
I have read extensively on the topic, I disagree with your assumptions. The camps were not exclusive to jewish people or semites (which is a meaningless term). For example, it is estimated 2 Million or so Polish Jewish people were exterminated in the camps, yet no one has Museums for the dead Polish people, or the dead Russians, or Ukrainians, etc.
It is generally accepted that Stalin killed far more people under his rule, than Hitler and the Nazi’s ever did, yet it is still allowed to be discussed. I don’t know of any laws in Europe preventing the mere discussion of that aspect of History, while they do have laws making the Holocaust discussion illegal.
Personally, I will not limit my perspective on any topic by accepting one side as having a monopoly on the truth. Many people who write about the Holocaust are ‘EXTREMELY BIASED’ one way or the other. If you can not see that, you need to research the subject more.
As I stated, if you believe the facts of the Holocaust are self evident; You should welcome the dissent, and be prepared to argue it as you see fit, or as you are inclined to do. This way the free exchange of ideas, is not inhibited by prejudice or bias.
Basically, what you are doing is creating a spotlight for yourself. If facebook banned said ‘groups’ (to be clear: I have no idea what those groups are, or if they are public or private (you did not specify and I have never looked for them)). What you will succeed in doing is one of several things; A. Get those groups banned, causing an uproar and a potential First Amendment right battle, that ‘you’ ( in the loosest sense) will eventually lose. B. Bring more attention to the those groups, whether they are using facts or rhetoric, they will eventually become stronger. or C. You will find some or cause to champion and forget about this in a week or two.
So be realistic here, I had to listen to a few replies from TheThinker, before he admitted he made an obvious mistake that he ranted about for 2 weeks. Do not confuse intellectual debate with racism or anti-semitism. History is History, it is supposed to be discussed, no matter how much you disagree with someone else.
I completely agree with you on that point. Facebook should be consistent in their behavior. If they’re going to block hot issues, then they need to look at this one closer. I just think a better solution is get quit blocking any of it.
The simple fact remains: the Holocaust did happen. It happened to Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, priests, the deformed, and any other groups that Hitler deemed impure. To deny this is to deny knowledge.
It is just to protect the right for people to express themselves and their opinions. To state that the Holocaust did not happen is not an opinion. It is ignorance masquerading as fact. To propagate misinformation that could mislead or harm others is dangerous. This is why the framers of the Constitution did not make these rights unlimited or absolute. Speech can harm the lives and well-being of others. What if there were a group that named itself “Slavery Deniers” in the US or “Apartheid Deniers” in South Africa? Would this be acceptable? In other words, don’t mistake opinion for fact.
Walt, don’t flatter yourself into thinking that this is an intellectual debate. It can hardly be called an intellectual debate when ignorance reigns supreme. Intellect relies on reason which in turn relies on the empirical observation of the literal world. History is the recounting of historical events. It is subjective in that someone may interpret events. The events themselves are objective and factual. It is fact that the sun is the center of this solar system. It is opinion that the sun is a god, as was believed by ancient cultures. (You should consider dusting off your dictionary. Do not confuse your extensive reading with extensive comprehension or in-depth thinking. Whoever taught you that “History is History” owes you some money because he or she failed you. If you want some free lessons, I just earned my doctorate and would love to help.)
One last thing: just because something can be said does not mean it should be. We are all a little bit guilty of failing to use discretion. Not all topics merit debate. Some things can and should be left unsaid. This world would benefit from more compassion for the feelings of others and less obsession with appeasing our own vanity. To be uncaring is easy, to be considerate less so.
“You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.”
I am behind you all the way, Jeremy. Get with it Facebook.
Do the right thing.
I am not denying the Holocaust happenned, I am only saying it should be discussed. The mere fact, the ‘facts’ of the Holocaust can be disputed, should be a sign that there should be an open discussion about it.
For a long time people believed the Earth was the center of the Universe /(Solar System), it is easy to confuse facts, but for several centuries it was heresy to say otherwise. If they concept of free thought was not suppressed, perhaps history would have been different. I am guessing you used that analogy, to elicit this response. People believed what they were told, it was not based on any facts, it was based solely on inaccurate observations and an egocentric world view.
Now, here is the question? I am not denying the Holocaust happenned, I am not even denying it was atrocious, I have only advocated the right for people to discuss it, and so far no one has attempted to have a reasonable discussion about facts, no one has attempted to put forth evidence to support their convictions, instead I have been insulted several times, and have been giving useless High Schoolesque arguments.
But, I guess in your mind, it is not discrimination to call anyone that disagrees with you ignorant?
It is not discriminatory. It’s simply the process of discernment.
You bring up the example of truth suppression. That is a matter of power. Fortunately, we live in a world where matters are discussed (see Healthcare, see Green Energy).
The problem is that you haven’t stated which facts are up for debate. What are they? When someone wishes to deny the whole Holocaust, this is not debate. It’s ignorance. These groups are not trying to illuminate the picture of the Holocaust (or shoya), but instead they are trying to smudge or erase the picture.
I apologize for your insults, but your charges against the writer for doing this for publicity are themselves insulting.
no one can change facts from history even if they wish. in my view, the are right banning such groups – it is memory it should be as it is.
I have to disagree with you this time.. Censorship is never a good thing, even when it’s for a good reason.
Of course I am smart enough not to post any of the alleged arguments they pose in the denial arguments, since no matter how I quoted, referenced, or cited those arguments, I would be labelled as agreeing with those arguments.
This is why I am only arguing the rights of these groups and individuals to have their opinions. I am a Christian, but I do not call Atheists ignorant. There are very few undisputed facts, is a priori knowledge indisputable?
You are stating that the Holocaust is an indisputable fact, but obviously it is not, because there are people who do not believe it happenned. As you know, it is illegal in many European countries to deny the Holocaust, yet if it is such a self evident truth, why would you put people in prison for an opinion on a Historical event?
The overall point is, how can these groups or people convince anyone that it did not happen? Which basically means they are no threat to anyone. Even if they could convince some people that it did not happen, so what? Now we want a world where any dissenting thoughts are suppressed? Isn’t that the catalyst that caused things like the dark ages and Nazi Germany to occur?
If those groups were to advocate repeating the Holocaust, then they should be banned, but not for merely having an opinion on it. What next facebook bans every ignorant person?
If someone chooses to disagree with an indisputable fact, it doesn’t necessarily mean that fact is no longer indisputable. Your choice of the term “obviously,” by the way, is coercive. To ignore empirical truth is outrageous.
The illegality of denying the Holocaust in response is a poor response by governments that were explicitly or implicitly guilty of supporting the Holocaust or failing to stop it. That is a different issue. People are allowed to disagree with viewpoints or stances or aspects of the event, but to disagree with an obvious fact is one of the most ridiculous ideas. Aspects of the Holocaust can be further researched, yet the matter as a whole is real.
Tell me how denying the truth is not advocating such violence. Do we forget that the Turks have almost eradicated the memory of the Armenian genocide? To deny such brutality is to allow such brutality to go unnoticed and unpunished. We need to remember the past or else we are doomed to repeat it. Ask the Romans–they paid this price.
We don’t want a world where there is no dissent. We need dissent where it is helpful and can bear fruit. Certain kinds of knowledge need refinement. This matter does not. Because certain individuals labeled ideas as a priori when they were not does not mean that all a priori facts are possibly flawed.
Also, just because there are few indisputable facts does not mean that there aren’t more. On earth, the sun rises in the east. That’s indisputable. What is disputable is why there are so few human beings that work for peace.
For your information, the dark ages are named that because our knowledge of them is dark. Those ages themselves can and will be shown to be illustrious and information-filled. Nice move, but there is no meaning there. Pride can be a virtue or a vice, my fellow Christian, depending on what aim it desires to attain. To plant doubt in the mind of those not yet nocent or those without knowledge can lead them to horrible ends. History teaches that lesson over and over again.
I respect your position very much, but discretion suggests we should be more feeling and less willing to be insensitive to the real pain and suffering of others. To deny the hardship of concentration camp prisoners is one of the lowest and most inhumane moves.
I respect your position as well, there have been many tragic events throughout history, there are many still happenning today, I am in no way dismissing the pain and suffering of those that were victims of the Holocaust. Perhaps my concern is the exclusive nature of the response to it.
We don’t have to look too hard to find many equally tragic events in history, and many are open to discussion. That said, I have found an exchange of ideas, is more productive than an intellectual P!ssing match.
At this point in this debate, we will just mimic the same ideas we originally stated, in different ways, and little progress will be made. I hope we can have a few more discussions like this on different topics, maybe one of us will eventually admit we are wrong about something (but I doubt it). Be well.
@Walt – I think I would still like to know which of the facts you feel should be discussed further? you’ve stayed away from saying anything specific, and I am curious as to why…
What’s next? Creationists? Moon landing deniers? Flat earthers? 9/11 conspiracy nuts?
The Internet needs nuts.
The Holocaust deniers should be banned without question.