While we reported on this story about Facebook having Holocaust denial groups; the pressure for Facebook to remove these groups have intensified after a shooting at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC that saw a security guard shot dead by a man known for his links to neo-Nazism.
The 88-year-old man, James W. von Brunn, served six years in prison for trying to make an “legal, non-violent citizens arrest” of board members of the Federal Prison, which he blamed the African Americans and the Jews, according to his website, Holy Western Empire. After the public knowledge of his website, it seems to have been shut down.
The calls for Facebook to remove these groups, which started from Brian Cuban, have now seen advertisers pull their ads from the site, as they do not want their brand linked with the group. In the UK, after a story that linked high-profile brands advertising to the groups, Vodafone and Tesco removed their advertising. According to TechCrunch, American Airlines and Domino’s Pizza have also pulled their advertising.
In a letter to Cuban, a Domino’s Social Media Specialist told him that they have “began working directly with Facebook immediately to prevent this from happening. As of Monday, all our ads were pulled from any groups, searches, pages, events, etc, with anti-Semitic content.”
However, he also clarifies that “we don’t buy directly from Facebook but as part of a group buy. Had we known this was possible, we certainly would not have participated.”
As with the groups, Cuban has found one group mocking the shooting, which is a horrendous thing to do. The picture, which has been taken down, shows three people, chained by the necks and hands tied behind their necks, going their way to see the museum. The group, called Holohoax, was created by a person in Montreal, Canada. We refuse to put a link to allow people to join.
But, while there might be many of these groups, their membership count seems to be less than a fraction of a group that is against Holocaust Denial on Facebook. The group, as of writing has over 49,000 members, is pressuring Facebook to remove the groups.
And despite the fact that it does go against its Terms of Service, it does not constitute hate speech in the eyes of Facebook; while pictures of breast-feeding, another controversy, were all removed as they violated the Terms of speech. So what I get out of this contradiction is that breast-feeding bad, Holocaust denial good.
The internet is also giving traction to some of these theories. And while the United States does have freedom of speech provisions in its first amendment, in Australia, you can be sued for what you say. In Germany, anyone who publically endorses, denies or plays down the Holocaust can face a maximum penalty of five years in jail and no less than a fine.
Wait? In Germany, it is against the law, and that goes against clause 5.1 in the Terms of Service: “You will not post content or take any action on Facebook that infringes someone else’s rights or otherwise violates the law.” But also, it should be noted that the law is a tricky business – it’s based in the US.
But is it anti-Semitic? Well, according to the Anti-Defamation League, it is (and I agree, it is anti-Semitic). According to its website, “Holocaust denial is a contemporary form of the classic anti-Semitic doctrine of the evil, manipulative and threatening world Jewish conspiracy. It was this doctrine that was instrumental in laying the groundwork for the Holocaust.”