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Facebook, Reddit rated worst in ADL's online Holocaust denial report

Facebook, Reddit rated worst in ADL's online Holocaust denial report
© Hill Illustration

Facebook and Reddit are ranked among the worst digital platforms in responding to Holocaust denial on their respective sites, according to a report released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Wednesday. 

The ADL’s “report card,” released on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, rated nine widely used online platforms that reach billions of users on their existing policies and enforcement of them related to Holocaust denial. 

Facebook and Reddit were in the bottom tier of the report card, receiving a “D” along with Discord and Steam. 

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Twitter, YouTube, TikTok and Roblox fared a bit better, each receiving a “C” from the ADL. While no platform received an “A,” Twitch was ranked the highest with a “B” grade. 

Facebook in October announced it would start removing Holocaust denial content, after years of groups including the ADL pushing for the platform to make the change. 

But despite the new policy, Facebook did not fully take action against Holocaust denial content, according to the report. The ADL report included examples of Holocaust denial content that remained on Facebook and the platform’s subsidiary Instagram as of the writing of the report. 

The ADL said it weighted platforms’ action taken on Holocaust denial content the most heavily in its investigation and report card grades. 

“Holocaust denial is hate speech, rooted in antisemitism and antisemitic conspiracy theories and should have no place on private digital social platforms that purport to be inclusive spaces for all people,” the ADL said in the report. 

Only Twitter and Twitch were found to take action against reported Holocaust denial content and “other platforms stated the content reported did not violate their policies or provided no response at all,” according to the report. 

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A spokesperson for Reddit said in a statement to The Hill that the examples cited in the ADL report have since been removed for violating Reddit’s policies. 

“As we continue to evolve and strengthen our policies and approaches, we remain committed to removing anti-Semitic and Holocaust denial content from Reddit's platform,” the spokesperson added. 

Facebook also said it has since removed the content mentioned in the report. But the company pushed back on its “D” rating, citing the decision in October to prohibit Holocaust denial content. 

“We don't agree — we’ve made major progress in fighting Holocaust denial on Facebook by implementing a new policy prohibiting it and enforcing against these hateful lies in every country around the world,” the company said in a statement. 

Facebook also noted that on Wednesday it rolled out a new feature that will connect people with “authoritative information abut the Holocaust” whenever anyone searched for terms associated with the Holocaust or Holocaust denial.

A spokesperson for Discord, a popular chat app, also pushed back on its failing rating in the ADL report. 

“We don’t believe the findings in this report accurately reflect our policies or practices. Discord has a zero-tolerance policy against hate and violence of any kind on our platform,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. 

The spokesperson said Discord treats reports of Holocaust denial as “incredibly serious” and takes actions against users that promote “this hateful position.” 

The statement did not directly state if the examples of Holocaust denial on Discord cited in the ADL report have since been removed, but according to Discord the examples are being investigated and the company has taken action to address the cases. 

The ADL report also included examples of Holocaust denial content on YouTube and TikTok.

“There is no place for anti-semitism on our platform or off it, and we do not tolerate content that denies the Holocaust and other genocides. We continually strengthen our policies and systems that work to counter hateful behavior, and we welcome guidance from experts like the ADL as we strive to promote a safe community environment,” a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.

A spokesperson for YouTube said the company has removed the videos highlighted in the report and values its “ongoing partnership” with the ADL.

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Despite not having a "specific policy" against Holocaust denial content, ADL credited Twitter with taking action against some content. 

Twitter took action against 85 percent of English language tweets reported, but it only took action on 12 percent of non-English language tweets, according to the report. 

In response to the report, a spokesperson for Twitter said "we are continuing to evaluate ways to more aggressively take enforcement action against such content and are working with partners to identify the biggest opportunities to do so."

The ADL report recommends platforms ramp up the consistent enforcement of their Holocaust denial policies. It also calls for tech companies to seek subject matter expert’s advice when drafting guidelines to address content moderation.

--Updated at 4:30 p.m.