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The Nazi Hunter Taking On Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook

The Nazi Hunter Taking On Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook

For the past six decades, Serge Klarsfeld has dedicated his life to hunting down Nazis and bringing them to justice. There was Klaus Barbie, the infamous “Butcher of Lyon,” whom Klarsfeld and his wife, Beate, tracked down in Peru; René Bousquet, who ordered thousands of Jews to their deaths in the Vel’ d’Hiv’ Roundup; and Paul Touvier, who was apprehended at a priory in Nice and became the first Vichy official to be convicted of crimes against humanity for Holocaust collaboration.

Now, he’s setting his sights on Mark Zuckerberg.

Klarsfeld, 84, is one of a number of Holocaust activists and survivors who are speaking out as part of #NoDenyingIt, a campaign against Facebook and its founder for allowing Holocaust denialism on the platform. In addition to Klarsfeld, who lost his father at Auschwitz, the participants include Auschwitz survivor Roman Kent, Anne Frank’s stepsister Eva Schloss, and many more.

“The internet causes a lot of people who are gullible or anti-Semitic to want to believe that the Holocaust didn’t happen,” says Klarsfeld. “It’s wrong, it’s against history, and it brings people to be anti-Semitic, because if the Holocaust didn’t happen, that means the Jews lied about their parents and grandparents being killed.”

#NoDenyingIt was launched by the Claims Conference, or the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, an organization seeking reparations for Jewish victims of Nazi oppression, recovering stolen Jewish property, and preserving the memory of the Holocaust.

This controversy began in 2018, when, during an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher, Zuckerberg brought up Holocaust denialism on his own during a discussion of Facebook’s censorship policies.

“Let’s take this whole [issue] closer to home. I’m Jewish, and there’s a set of people who deny that the Holocaust happened,” said Zuckerberg. “I find that deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.” (He later issued a half-hearted apology, while remaining steadfast on in his position: “I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that.”)

Later in the chat, Zuckerberg expanded on his company’s rather nebulous policy. “The principles that we have on what we remove from the service are: If it’s going to result in real harm, real physical harm, or if you’re attacking individuals, then that content shouldn’t be on the platform,” he said.

But Klarsfeld and the #NoDenyingIt campaign argue that Holocaust denialism does result in “real physical harm,” and is therefore in violation of Facebook policy.  

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