From Content That Denies Holocaust to Content for Spreading Electoral Lies, Is Facebook Prioritising Commercial Interests Over Social Concerns?

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg checks anti-semitic content through new policies, here is a look at recent episodes where the social media giant has faced criticism for prioritising commercial interests over humanitarian ones.

Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook

In a latest decision emerging from Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come up and said that Facebook will no longer allow any posts or content that denies the possibility of the German Holocaust. 

Zuckerberg said that Facebook had been updating its policy and has decided to ban all kinds of content that deny that the holocaust took place. There have been various attempts to propose a theory that the greatest genocide in the world or the holocaust of 1941-45 had never taken pace and the mass extermination of over six million jew people had never unfolded. Facebook has come upfront and said that it will pull down and discourage all content that denies the holocaust or the mass extermination of the jews. Mark Zuckerberg said, “We’ve long taken down posts that praise hate crimes or mass murder, including the holocaust. But with rising anti- Semitism, we are expanding our policy to prohibit any context that denies or distorts the Holocaust as well.”

Zuckerberg said that if any user searches the term ‘holocaust’ on the social media platform, they will not be directed anywhere else but to verified sources on the issue.

Facebook Faces Dilemma Between Freedom of Expression and Authenticated and Responsible Information

FACEBOOK

Mark Zuckeberg confessed that as an organisational head he faced this dilemma for the longest time as to whether free expression should be valued more on the social media platform or whether there should be an institutional emphasis on allowing only non-hateful/verified posts.  He said that over the years there were posts flooding on social media platforms that denied the genocide and there was an upsurge in anti-semitic content. 

Drawing the fine balance between what constitutes free speech and what constitutes spreading of untruth, he said that Facebook will pull down and disallow any contest that denies the occurrence of the genocide. 

In 2018, Mark Zuckerberg had said that personally he found any content that denied the occurrence of the genocide very offensive but did not believe in taking down the context that denied the happening of the genocide because he argued that those who posted such content did not intentionally get it wrong. 

His comments faced the fire and he was criticised around the world for his indifference, later he clarified his stance and said that such posts were indeed offensive and he had no intentions of supporting and encouraging those who spread such misconceptions.

Facebook Faces Backlash:From Hate Speech Against Jews to Hate Speech Against Minorities in India

Let us not forget the fact that, Facebook hasn’t just been receiving a flak in the western world where posts against the non-occurrence of the holocaust have had to be restricted, the media company also faced a backlash in India recently. It had to go on and ban hate speech content when an article published in The Wall Street Journal alleged that there was some sort of a nexus between Facebook as a company and the BJP. Facebook faced a backlash because it was alleged that the company had not done enough to remove posts that spread hatred against the minority community, more so, when the company cited its commercial interests for its inaction. The report also highlighted that Facebook had been putting its commercial interests in India before humanitarian interests. 

Facebook has been criticised for posting non-verified political ads and allowing leaders like American President  to use the platform for spreading allegedly fake information on voting. 

In the aftermath of the allegations, the company took various steps to check such excesses. 

Thus, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that from facing criticism for not doing enough to check content that demeaned and denied the injustices perpetrated on the jews through the holocaust to allowing the promotion of hate content in India to becoming a platform for the spread of fake information on elections in the United States, the company has been attacked and questioned on its priorities and vigilance mechanisms.

But will the social media giant, really pay heed?

 

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