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Zuckerberg Was Right About How to Handle Holocaust Deniers

July 30, 2018 in Economics

By Flemming Rose

Flemming Rose

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg got into trouble
recently when he said he wouldn’t remove Holocaust deniers
from his platform, claiming some aren’t “intentionally
getting it wrong.”

In response, the Anti-Defamation League charged that Facebook has a “moral and
ethical obligation” to prevent the
“dissemination” of Holocaust denial. Others attacked
Zuckerberg for not taking growing anti-Semitism seriously. Zuckerberg
later clarified that he wasn’t defending the intent of
Holocaust deniers.

The free-speech challenge that Facebook and similar platforms
with global reach face is immense. Since World War II and
especially since the Cold War, more countries have enacted
legislation -with references to history, religion, culture, social
peace and security concerns- that undermines a common understanding
of what free speech entails. This has made free speech advocacy
increasingly difficult on the international level.

This is a paradox. Due to increased migration, rapid
urbanization and developments in technology, more people are
becoming virtual and physical neighbors. Yet while this increases
the need for shared norms about free speech and its limits, the
world seems to be moving in the opposite direction.

Facebook has over 2 billion members from every corner of the
planet — all communicating within the context of vastly
different legal systems, histories, cultures, religions and social
norms — creating an overwhelming amount of competing
priorities. To illustrate this point, consider the contrasting
norms in the two countries with the most Facebook users: the United
States and India. While it’s not controversial in Texas to tell
others that you slaughtered a cow and had some great steaks, doing
so in India could get you killed. The cow is sacred in Hinduism,
and in parts of India, killing a cow is punishable by life
imprisonment. Just a couple of months ago, a man was beaten to death in India after a mob accused
him of slaughtering a cow. What should Facebook do if somebody in
India establishes a group for beef-lovers?

We should be careful to
draw sweeping conclusions, but the limited data we have indicates
that banning Holocaust denial isn’t the most effective way to fight
it and similar incidents of anti-Semitism.

Or what about the profound differences in nudity norms in
countries like the United States and Denmark? In Denmark and other
European countries, nudity is not by definition seen as pornography
or as explicit sexual content. It was therefore not controversial
when a well-known Danish author included nude photos in a book a
few years ago and published some on Facebook. In the United States,
though, both Apple and Facebook censored the photos for violating
community standards. Facebook notified …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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