Facebook lenient on blocking Holocaust denial, leaked documents show


(JTA) — Facebook requires its content moderators to take down Holocaust denial material in only four countries, including Israel, even though it is illegal in 14, according to a company handbook provided to the network’s moderators.

The British daily newspaper The Guardian published information from leaked documents from Facebook on Wednesday, including from the moderators’ handbook.

According to the handbook, moderators should take down Holocaust denial material in France, Israel, Germany and Austria — countries that Facebook believes will take legal action. It also says that Facebook “does not welcome local law that stands as an obstacle to an open and connected world” and will only consider blocking or hiding Holocaust denial messages and photographs if “we face the risk of getting blocked in a country or a legal risk.”

“We believe our geo-blocking policy balances our belief in free expression with the practical need to respect local laws in certain sovereign nations in order to remain unblocked and avoid legal liability. We will only use geo-blocking when a country has taken sufficient steps to demonstrate that the local legislation permits censorship in that specific case,” the handbook says, according to The Guardian.

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It also says: “Some 14 countries have legislation on their books prohibiting the expression of claims that the volume of death and severity of the Holocaust is overestimated. Less than half the countries with these laws actually pursue it. We block on report only in those countries that actively pursue the issue with us.”

Facebook denied that Holocaust denial blocking occurs in only four countries but would not discuss the issue further with The Guardian, according to the newspaper.

According to The Guardian, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers qualify as a “quasi-protected category, meaning they do not receive as many protections as other vulnerable groups.”

“As a quasi-protected category, they will not have the full protections of our hate speech policy because we want to allow people to have broad discussions on migrants and immigration which is a hot topic in upcoming elections,” the handbook says, according to The Guardian.

The leaked documents also deal with how moderators should handle suicide, pornography, racism and terrorism.