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Holocaust Denial is a Form of Hate Speech

Raphael Cohen-Almagor

University of Hull

December 11, 2009

Amsterdam Law Forum, 2009

Recently Facebook confirmed that it has disabled a group called "I Hate Muslims in Oz." Barry Schnitt explained: "We disabled the 'I Hate Muslims in Oz' group…because it contained an explicit statement of hate. Where Holocaust-denial groups have done this and been reported, we’ve taken the same action".

Facebook distinguishes between "explicit statement of hate" and Holocaust denial. Its directors believe that Holocaust denial is not hateful per se and does not therefore contravene the company’s terms of service. The terms of service say: "You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence". Schnitt said: "We're always discussing and evaluating our policies on reported content, but have no plans to change this policy at this time. In addition to discussing it internally, we continue to engage with third-party experts on the issue".

In this short piece I wish to take issue with the assertion that Holocaust denial is not hateful per se. My aim is to show that it is, and therefore that Facebook should reconsider its position. All Internet providers and web-hosting companies whose terms of service disallow hateful messages on their servers should not host or provide forums for such hate-mongering. This is of urgent need as Holocaust denial is prevalent in Europe, the United States, and across the Arab and Muslim parts of the world. Iran's regime, under the disputed leadership of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made questioning the Holocaust one of the centerpieces of its radical ideology, brazenly proclaiming falsehoods about one of the most thoroughly documented periods in history. In December 2006, he convened an "International Conference Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision" designed to address the "need" to establish whether the Holocaust actually happened. Ahmadinejad's Holocaust denial is accompanied by outrageous statements, such as Israel should be "wiped out from the map", and by controversial nuclear policy. Hateful words are part of a calculated strategy to denounce Israel and bring about a "World without Zionism".

Number of Pages in PDF File: 11

Keywords: Holocaust denial, hate speech, Facebook, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, terms of service

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Date posted: December 14, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Cohen-Almagor, Raphael, Holocaust Denial is a Form of Hate Speech (December 11, 2009). Amsterdam Law Forum, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1521953

Contact Information

Raphael Cohen-Almagor (Contact Author)
University of Hull ( email )
Cottingham Road
Hull, Great Britain HU6 7RX
United Kingdom
HOME PAGE: http://www.hull.ac.uk/rca
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