Facebook Sees 15 Times More Hate Speech Than 5 Years Ago As It Vows to Fight Antisemitism

A top Facebook officer on Wednesday said that the platform was removing 15 times more hate speech than it was five years ago and pledged to keep fighting the harmful expressions, the Associated Press reported.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg was one of the government and social media representatives who attended the International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance in Sweden, where many blamed social media for contributing to widespread rises in antisemitism.

Participants at the Malmo conference, including Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Union's executive branch, pledged to curtail harmful language online and in the real world by pushing back on hate speech, disinformation and the rejection of facts, the AP reported.

The European Commission chief said that Holocaust denial and antisemitism are "a threat to Jewish people, but it is also a poison for our democracies, our values and our open societies." The EU plans to develop "a network of young European ambassadors for Holocaust remembrance" in response, von der Leyen said.

"Who is in a better position to teach the lessons of the Shoah to their peers than our young?" she added.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Holocaust Remembrance Forum
A top Facebook officer on Wednesday said at a Holocaust remembrance conference that the platform was removing 15 times more hate speech than it was five years ago. Above, Swedens's Prime Minister Stefan Lofven (C), author and Holocaust survivor Dina Rajs (L) and Ronald S Lauder, President of World Jewish Congress address the Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism in Malmo, Sweden, on October 13, 2021. Jonas Ekstromer/TT News Agency/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was allocating $1 million to counter online antisemitic hate speech in the Mideast and North Africa. Washington also has started "an expanded series of international visitor leadership programs" to confront Holocaust distortion and antisemitism in North Africa, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America, he said.

"Our priorities include condemning and countering antisemitism, ensuring physical security for Jewish communities, supporting Holocaust education, especially for young people, protecting religious freedom and urging countries to commit more deeply to the fight against hate speech online," Blinken said in a video message.

Pedro Pina, head of YouTube in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said the video-sharing platform owned by Google pledged more than 5 million euros ($5.8 million).

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, the event's host, said other pledges included new memorial sites, museums and educational programs dedicated to preserving the history of the Holocaust and the mass killings of Roma. And he said the one-day conference was "by no means the end of the road."

"On the contrary, this is a powerful relaunch of the work to combat antisemitism, anti-Roma-ism and other forms of racism," Lofven said." The real work starts now. It's now that our pledges must be turned into concrete action."

Presidents Isaac Herzog of Israel and Emmanuel Macron of France participated remotely, with the latter addressing the assembly in a prerecorded video message.

The first International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance was held in Stockholm in 2000. International leaders urged all countries at the time to open secret government files on Nazi Germany's extermination campaign, a genocide that killed 6 million European Jews.

Ronald Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, said during a news conference Wednesday that Jewish organizations "want governments to start making laws against putting hate on the internet."

"We will fight and fight that struggle, and we're not to be silenced," Lauder said. "Silence is what makes antisemitism grow."

Facebook Logo
Facebook has pledged to fight antisemitism and other hate speech on the social media platform. Above, the Facebook logo is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on October 6, 2021, in Paris, France. Chesnot/Getty Images