In an interview with Recode published on Wednesday, Mark Zuckerberg got into the subject of “fake news.” It didn’t go well.
“As abhorrent as some of this content can be, I do think that it gets down to this principle of giving people a voice,” Zuckerberg said, adding that Facebook’s guidelines of removing something from the platform are “if it’s going to result in real harm, real physical harm, or if you’re attacking individuals, then that content shouldn’t be on the platform.”
From there, the interviewer pushes him, asking, “‘Sandy Hook didn’t happen’ is not a debate. It is false. You can’t just take that down?” Zuckerberg agrees that is false, but pivots to Holocaust deniers. (Guess they fall in the same category as Sandy Hook deniers?) He says, “I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened. I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong…”
Pause. Zuckerberg does not think people are “intentionally getting wrong” that the Holocaust didn’t happen!? He thinks these lies should be allowed to remain on Facebook and spread? OY VEY.
As reporter Benjy Sarlin tweeted, “so apparently Mark Zuckerberg is under the impression there’s some good faith debate going on over whether the Holocaust happened?”
Another tweet, from Matt Stoller, points out “So now Mark Zuckerberg is defending Holocaust deniers because they are sincere.”
But stay tuned, because the interview gets worse.
Zuckerberg continues that it is “hard” to “understand the intent” of the Holocaust deniers because “as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly.” (Basically, he’s saying, we should give them the benefit of the doubt because we don’t know what they mean when they say “The Holocaust never happened.”)
Well, Zuck, we’re pretty sure we know what they mean: They intend to deny that the Holocaust ever happened. And you know what else? That lie — a dangerous, anti-Semitic conspiracy theory — shouldn’t be spread on Facebook.
As one historian pointed out on Twitter, “Holocaust denial doesn’t stem from a lack of facts. It’s not an ‘uninformed’ opinion. It is, however, deeply corrosive to society.”
Do better, Facebook.