Facebook won’t ban Holocaust denial groups


SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Facebook, the popular social networking Web site, will only ban groups that deny the Holocaust in countries where it is a criminal offense.

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said that although the organization does “abhor Nazi ideals and find Holocaust denial repulsive,” the popular social networking Web site believes that people have a right to discuss these ideas, CNN reported Friday.

“We want Facebook to be a place where ideas, even controversial ideas, can be discussed,” Schnitt said.

Facebook wants “to strike a very delicate balance between giving users the freedom to express their opinions and beliefs — even those that are controversial or that we may find repulsive — while also ensuring that individuals and groups of people do not feel threatened or endangered,” he added.

Schnitt said that in countries where Holocaust denial is illegal, such as Germany and Israel, users would be denied access.

Groups currently on Facebook include “Holocaust: A series of lies,” “Holocaust is a Holohoax” and “Holocaust is a myth."

Just because content is illegal in one country does not mean it will be removed from the site, Schnitt said.

“For example, homosexual content is illegal in some countries, but that does not mean it should be removed from Facebook,” he said.

In a recent blog post, a U.S. attorney, Brian Cuban — the brother of Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban — blasted the social networking site for allowing Holocaust denial groups to be formed, apparently in defiance of the Web site’s terms of use.

Facebook’s terms of use state that any of its 200 million users can be banned if they post “any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable.”

Schnitt told CNN, “We can’t guarantee that there isn’t any content that violates our policies and I don’t know of any site hosting user-generated content that makes this guarantee.”

Last week the site removed a group titled “Isle of Man KKK” following complaints, according to Schnitt.

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