Facebook Erupts Controversy, Allows Holocaust Denial Groups

Dennis Faas's picture

An American lawyer is demanding that Facebook executives explain why the site decided to allow users to set-up groups promoting the denial of the Holocaust. Brian Cuban wants CEO Mark Zuckerberg to detail his personal involvement in the decision.

Cuban, whose brother Mark is the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, has previously complained that such groups violate national laws in countries which ban the act of denying the Holocaust, and are thus inherently against Facebook's terms and conditions.

However, perhaps recognizing that this logic could be stretched too far (for example, sites criticizing dictators where local laws ban such free speech), Cuban now acknowledges that was a "short-sighted back door 'lawyer's approach'." (Source: briancuban.com)

He's instead now concentrating on both the issue of whether or not Holocaust denial groups constitute free speech, and the process by which Facebook decided to permit such groups.

Legalized Hate Speech

In an open letter to Zuckererg, Cuban quotes a Facebook spokesman who said "We have a lot of internal debate and we bring in experts to talk about it."

Cuban responds by asking Zuckerberg to detail how many experts were consulted, what their qualifications were, and what involvement he personally had in the decision, specifically asking "Do you agree that something can be legal but still constitute hate speech?"

Several media reports have noted an apparent disparity by claiming Facebook bans photographs of breast feeding women. While it is true that in 2007 the site removed such pictures (and reportedly banned some of the uploaders), pro-breastfeeding groups on the site feature many of these pictures today.

This means either that Facebook has changed its policies, or that the ban simply extends to exposed visible female nipples, regardless of the context.

Perhaps a more appropriate inconsistency is that barely a week ago Facebook removed a site promoting membership of the Ku Klux Klan on the Isle of Man. Whatever the case, there appears to be something irregular about Facebook's freedom of speech (or lack thereof) policies. (Source: telegraph.co.uk)

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