Facebook, Instagram to Ban Criticism of 'Zionists' as 'Hate Speech'

Chris Menahan
InformationLiberation
Jul. 09, 2024

Mark Zuckerberg's Meta, under lobbying from the World Jewish Congress, announced Tuesday that claims of "Zionists" "running the world or controlling the media" will be banned as "hate speech" going forward.



"After hearing input and looking at research from different perspectives, we will now remove speech targeting 'Zionists' in several areas where our process showed that the speech tends to be used to refer to Jews and Israelis with dehumanizing comparisons, calls for harm, or denials of existence," Meta announced in a blog post.
Our longstanding approach to the word "Zionist" under our Hate Speech policy has been to treat the word as a proxy for Jewish or Israeli people in two narrow circumstances: (1) where Zionists are compared to rats, reflecting known antisemitic imagery, and (2) where context makes clear that "Zionist" means "Jew" or "Israeli" (e.g., "Today the Jews celebrate Passover. I hate those Zionists."). This approach will remain in place. However, we have determined that the existing policy guidance does not sufficiently address the ways people are using the term "Zionist" online and offline.

Going forward, we will remove content attacking "Zionists" when it is not explicitly about the political movement, but instead uses antisemitic stereotypes, or threatens other types of harm through intimidation, or violence directed against Jews or Israelis under the guise of attacking Zionists, including:

- Claims about running the world or controlling the media;

- Dehumanizing comparisons, such as comparisons to pigs, filth, or vermin;

- Calls for physical harm;

- Denials of existence;

- Mocking for having a disease.

[...] As part of our Policy Forum process, we considered feedback from a variety of sources. Across a range of global stakeholders, we have found sharply contrasting views on how to evaluate attacks on "Zionists." For many, the term is a proxy for Jewish people or Israelis. This perception is particularly strong when the term is paired with age-old antisemitic tropes especially those invoking the conspiracy of worldwide Jewish power. Many other stakeholders told us that "Zionists" is a reference to adherents of an ideology, rooted in history, and that today the term is used most often to refer to the Israeli government and its supporters. This perception is particularly strong when the term is used in commentary about Israeli government actions in Gaza and the West Bank.

In addition to these consultations, we conducted multiple rounds of academic literature reviews, qualitative user research, and on-platform research designed to help us understand how people use and understand the term "Zionist" on our platforms. In March, this work culminated with a Policy Forum on this issue. The Policy Forum is where we consider a range of feedback from internal and external experts and discuss potential changes to our policies, informed by these inputs. Our policies evolve over time based on our due diligence, including feedback from these meetings and other inputs such as changes in social norms, language, or product updates. We have worked to address the complex and divided global feedback we obtained through the Policy Forum by specifying that, going forward, we will remove content in the categories listed above, while protecting voice and legitimate free expression in other content about "Zionists."
Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg will decide which criticism of Zionists is "legitimate free expression" -- not the First Amendment.

In 2020, Zuckerberg also issued new speech codes for Facebook and Instagram to ban all Holocaust denial as well as all content which depicts "Jewish people running the world or controlling major institutions such as media networks, the economy or the government."

"The idea of banning content that promotes stereotypes of Jewish global control came up a year ago, in a meeting with several Jewish groups convened by Facebook, and was pushed primarily by the World Jewish Congress," The Jewish Daily Forward reported at the time.


Later that year, Zuckerberg overhauled Facebook's "race-blind" "hate speech" algorithms to allow more anti-White hatred.

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