UNESCO, World Jewish Congress and Facebook agreement extends Holocaust education resource to 12 languages
Recently the hashtag #HitlerWasRight was trending on social media. A clear indication that globally there remains a strong conviction that the German Nazi regime’s genocide of more than 6 million Jews during the Second World War was the right thing to do. Similar antisemitic narratives, both overt and more insidious, are spreading quickly online. A recent study by the Institute Strategic Dialogue found “#Holohoax”, denying the historical truth of the Holocaust, on 36 Facebook groups with more than 360,000 combined followers, as well as references on Reddit, Twitter and YouTube all created between June 2018 and July 2020.
Social media platforms have become magnets for claims that deny, distort or glorify the history of the Holocaust, such as comparisons between COVID-19 restrictions and the persecution of Jews under the Nazi regime, and the renewed proliferation of the Hitler hashtag during the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine. Often these claims rely on and reproduce deep-rooted antisemitic tropes and narratives, while social media and the cybersphere provide fertile ground to propagate new hatreds based on ignorance and deliberate disinformation.
To address this alarming increase and provide access to fact-based information about the Holocaust, social media firms can make an immediate difference by changing their terms of service and policies.
From 8 July 2021, Facebook will expand the ways it connects people to the website AboutHolocaust.org, developed by the World Jewish Congress in partnership with UNESCO as a comprehensive resource providing essential information about the history of the Holocaust and its legacy. The initiative, which was piloted in English in January, now extends to 12 languages for people around the world.
AboutHolocaust.org counters the rise of Holocaust denial and distortion by providing simple answers to questions such as “What was the Holocaust?”, “How did the Nazis exploit their Jewish victims?” and “Were Jews the only victims of Nazi persecution?”. Knowledge of the history of the Holocaust is of global relevance to counter antisemitism today and prevent genocide and atrocity crimes in the future.
These lessons are relevant for people in every country and context, making Facebook’s expansion into 12 of the 19 languages available on AboutHolocaust.org all the more significant, and a recognition of the crucial global role and responsibility social media companies have in the digital age. UNESCO is undertaking wider consultations with Facebook and other social networks to improve the transparency of decisions around content moderation and other issues, ensure the survival of vibrant independent media, and educate audiences to think critically about information.