Anti-Semitic 9/11 Conspiracy Videos Rife on Facebook Despite Fake News Vows

Videos promoting Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the 9/11 terror attacks continue to be rife on Facebook on the 20th anniversary of the tragic events despite the social media giant's repeated pledges to tackle fake news.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously said the company would do more to address the issue of false information on the platform but some conspiracy videos have remained on the site for years.

A newly published report from the Simon Wiesenthal Center highlighted the problem of Anti-Semitic 9/11 videos and pointed out that in some cases the videos have been viewed tens of thousands of times.

That report, "September 11 Conspiracies: 20 Years Later," draws attention to one Facebook video posted by the "Anti Illuminati
Alliance" which falsely claims that no planes were used in the attacks.

"Illuminati" is a term associated with Anti-Semitism, according to the American Jewish Committee (AJC)'s Translate Hate Glossary.

The video was still available on Facebook when Newsweek reviewed it on Saturday and has been viewed more than 68,000 times. The video was posted on March 1, 2021.

Another Facebook video reviewed by Newsweek shows footage of the 9/11 attacks, while the description claims it was an "inside job" and that explosions were set by "the Cabals."

As the AJC's glossary notes, "cabal" is yet another term associated with Anti-Semitism and Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. The video in question has been viewed 11,000 times and was posted to Facebook on September 12, 2017.

A video posted to Facebook on September 11, 2016, and still available when Newsweek reviewed it on Saturday, claims that the 9/11 attacks were a hoax.

The Facebook page links to a website and one of the first articles on that website promotes an event called "Deep Truth on 9/11" featuring conspiracy theorist David Icke, whom critics have accused of being Anti-Semitic and of denying the Holocaust, though he has said that's not the case.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center's report also noted a post, without a video, added to Facebook in 2012, that claims Jewish people had advanced warning about the 9/11 attacks and stayed at home. It was still accessible when Newsweek reviewed it on Saturday and had been shared 2,000 times.

That particular conspiracy theory has a long history, as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) noted in a report published on August 30, 2011. That 10-year-old report also highlighted the role Facebook played in hosting "a number of groups and individuals who claim that Jews and/or Israelis carried out the 9/11 attacks."

Facebook also hosts 9/11 conspiracy theory groups, according to the Simon Wiesenthal Center's report, one of which, "Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth," has almost 500,000 followers.

Anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theory videos and other Anti-Semitic content continue to be accessible on Facebook despite the fact CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly said the platform would do more to deal with fake news.

In November 2016, before that year's presidential election, Zuckerberg posted on Facebook saying that "Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes. The hoaxes that do exist are not limited to one partisan view, or even to politics" but pledged to deal with the issue.

"That said, we don't want any hoaxes on Facebook," Zuckerberg wrote. "Our goal is to show people the content they will find most meaningful, and people want accurate news. We have already launched work enabling our community to flag hoaxes and fake news, and there is more we can do here. We have made progress, and we will continue to work on this to improve further."

In 2017, Facebook said it would do more to tackle fake news and use "updated machine learning" to improve detection of potentially false stories and in 2018, Facebook's vice president for global public policy Joel Kaplan told the European Union (EU) the site had tools to deal with disinformation that might arise during the 2019 European parliament elections.

During a congressional hearing in March this year, Zuckerberg said hateful content made up only a small fraction of overall content on Facebook and the site was working with 80 fact-checking organizations and they were labeling false stories that had been debunked.

Despite this, 9/11 conspiracy theories generally and specifically Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about the attacks remained readily accessible on Facebook on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy through videos, written posts and external links to sites that further promoted conspiracies.

Newsweek has asked Facebook for comment.

U.S Flag at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza
An American flag is seen in a person's name at the North reflecting pool at the 9/11 Memorial Plaza as the city continues Phase 4 of re-opening following restrictions imposed to slow the spread of coronavirus on August 10, 2020 in New York City. Anti-Semitic conspiracy theory videos about 9/11 are still available on Facebook. Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images