Facebook rejects claim of profiting through racism

September 27, 2012 Agencies
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In response to an attack by Jewish and Aboriginal leaders that Facebook was promoting racism by publishing material that mocks Jews and Aborigines, the social media company said the “Jewish memes” and “Aboriginal memes” pages do not violate its terms, even though it finds the material “incredibly distasteful”.

A statement issued on Wednesday by a Facebook spokesperson said:
“We recognize the public concern that this page has caused. Facebook doesn’t share these views, but while incredibly distasteful, the page doesn’t currently violate our terms. We don’t remove this type of content from the site unless it violates our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, but out of respect for local laws, we may restrict access to content that violates local laws.
“We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views, while respecting the rights and feelings of others. We recognize that this sometimes means people will share ideas and opinions that brush up against a line of acceptability for many people. We take this issue very seriously and we have a team of people that make sure content on Facebook does not violate our policies.
“For your background:

·         The two pages do not breach Facebook’s terms
·         The two pages are clearly labelled as offensive in the title – and you don’t have to visit the pages
·         Facebook’s community standards (see policies link above) make it clear that hate speech against protected categories is against Facebook’s terms [race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition]
·         However, humorous content is still allowed to target those categories
·         Ultimately, this is an issue of free speech – these pages are clearly offensive to some but as they are not targeting individuals, are based on humour and make no credible threat of violence they will not be removed
·         For comparison – if you search for ‘jew jokes’ on a popular video website, you get 8300+ results, while if you enter the same search on a major search engine you get 11m results.”

Wertheim responds….

Peter Wertheim

In response to Facebook’s claim that its “Jewish memes” web page – which was removed from Australia following protests but is still accessible in other parts of the world – did not breach its terms, Peter Wertheim, the executive director of the ECAJ, said:

“Facebook’s statement of rights and responsibilities prohibits the posting of “hate speech”.  The page we have complained about depicts Jews as suitable fodder for gas chambers and mass murder.  It has a photo of Anne Frank with the message “What’s that burning? Oh it’s my family”  and includes references to “faulty showers”, going “down the chimney” (as opposed to up), and Jews as  “tight cunts”.  The page also features a so-called apology addressed to “any Jewish person who is offended by our jokes” that says “You are not special because you suffered. Shut your self-serving mouths and get over it.”  Yet a senior consultant at Facebook has concluded that none of this content is “hate speech” supposedly because the comments are “not targeting specific individuals, are based on humour and make no credible threat of violence”.

It is an indictment of Facebook and the low bar it has set for community standards that it cannot understand that the content we have complained about constitutes hate speech.  Jews as a group are being attacked polemically on the basis of ethnicity and religion in the clearest possible manner.  The content of this Facebook page attempts to dehumanise Jews by reducing them to caricatures defined in terms of crude, negative stereotypes.   Facebook would do well to remember the admonition of the internationally-renowned human rights lawyer Irwin Cotler that the Holocaust did not begin with deeds, it began with words.


2 Responses to “Facebook rejects claim of profiting through racism”
  1. Christopher says:

    Facebook standard reference to corporate Rights and Responsibility charter as not being breached makes for interesting observation. Assuming that white middle class males wrote this charter then the reference is not surprising given that the invective, racial stereotyping, and hate comments generally are made by males and females from that same socio-economic base. Facebook should amend the charter to reflect community standards that generally have a zero tolerance to those comments. But that would mean for facebook to join many of us on the road to Damascus. It is an irony that a social networking media has rights and responsibility to provide oxygen for racism to thrive.

  2. kevobx says:

    What is face book, but graven images, vainity? What ever happen to the book of life.

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