By Jeff Horwitz 

Facebook Inc. said it would begin removing Holocaust denials from its social media platforms, a concession following years of complaints from civil rights groups that the company was tolerating hate speech.

The move -- announced in a blog post Monday and on Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg's personal Facebook page -- is the latest step by Facebook broadening its approach to content removals. Typically the company sought to impose removals in instances where the material in posts posed imminent harm to an individual or group of people. In recent months, Facebook has banned groups and pages devoted to spreading the wide-ranging conspiracy theory known as QAnon as well as militia groups.

How Facebook deals with content disputing the Holocaust has been a longstanding subject of controversy. In 2018, Mr. Zuckerberg drew widespread condemnation from civil rights and Holocaust remembrance organizations when he defended the right of Holocaust deniers to express their views on Facebook. In an interview with tech publication Recode he said he didn't believe they were "intentionally getting it wrong."

Mr. Zuckerberg said his thinking has since changed.

"I've struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust, " Mr. Zuckerberg wrote, citing data showing an increase in anti-Semitic violence as helping sway his decision. "Drawing the right lines between what is and isn't acceptable speech isn't straightforward, but with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance."

Write to Jeff Horwitz at Jeff.Horwitz@wsj.com

 

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 12, 2020 15:34 ET (19:34 GMT)

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