Hate and Holocaust Denial on Facebook
School of Social Work
Read the full paper until the tab “Anti-Semitism 2.0”
The Holocaust, known as The Shoah in the Jewish community, was the attempted genocide of the Jews in Europe under the extremist Nazi regime. They succeeded in murdering 12,000,000 people and 6,000,000 Jews, two thirds of the Jewish population of Europe. In America, the ADL has identified a rising “wave of hate” against Jewish individuals, communities and places of worship (“Shooting,” 2009). It seems almost taboo to discuss in modern American society, but a 2007 ADL poll identified that “15% of Americans, nearly 35 million adults, hold views about Jews that are ‘unquestionably anti-Semitic,’” a number that had previously been in decline (ADL survey, 2007). Twenty percent of those polled said Jews have too much power in the business world, twenty-seven percent stated Jews were responsible for the death of Christ, and 31 percent believed that Jews were more loyal to Israel than the United States (ADL survey).
Receiving much national attention recently in regards to hate spread on the internet is social networking site Facebook. The company has been under attack because of its allowance of Holocaust denial, anti-Semitic and anti-Israel groups. Dr. Andre Oboler founded “Zionism on the Web” after he realized that a Google search of the term yielded almost entirely anti-Semitic results. He also developed the term “Anti-Semitism 2.0,” which is defined as “the use of web applications…to spread a social acceptability of anti-Semitic attitudes and discourse” (Oboler, 2008). It is an “attempt to make racism acceptable and perhaps even ‘cool,’ while also providing explanations to make those accepting the racist attitudes dismiss the arguments of people trying to correct them” (Oboler). He charges that online anti-Semitism is “extremely dangerous. Within five years it may be too late to reverse the social trend. What starts online will not end online. I would rank this as the most serious threat to Jewish people after a nuclear Iran and the Durban II ‘anti-racism’ Conference” (Oboler).
Facebook terms of service “are very clearly written: ‘You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence” (Matyszczyk, 2009) and “You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious or discriminatory” (Facebook). Facebook’s defense for allowing groups such as “Holohoax” is that “Holocaust denial is not, in itself, hateful” (Matyszczyk). Obama put it most eloquently, saying, “To this day, there are those who insist the Holocaust never happened. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts, a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history” (“Obama,” 2009). Advocacy practice states that “a condition is defined as a problem only when we decide something should be done about it” (Hoefer, 2006, p. 54). This is a problem that must be addressed.