Press Release

ADL Urges Oversight Board Direct Meta to Significantly Improve Addressing Holocaust Denial and Distortion

New York, NY, August 31, 2023 … ADL (the Anti-Defamation League) today urged Meta’s Oversight Board to take action to ensure that the company is following through on its prohibition of Holocaust denial content by removing posts that attempt to deny or minimize the extent of the Nazi extermination of the Jewish people in World War II.

“The fact that Meta waited for the Oversight Board to take the case before enforcing their own policies against Holocaust Denial tells you everything you need to know about the company’s priorities. Holocaust denial and distortion content is antisemitism and has no place on Meta or any social media platforms -- full stop,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, ADL CEO. “From what we have seen, there’s no question that this post is unequivocally hate speech, and should have been an easy call for Meta to immediately action. We urge the Oversight Board to not only affirm the decision but also direct Meta to robustly remove content that denies or distorts information about the Holocaust.”

The case stems from Meta’s repeated failure to remove an Instagram post from 2020 that included blatant Holocaust denial and distortion, despite it being reported by users at least six times after it was posted on Instagram in September 2020. The post featured an image of Squidward—a cartoon character from SpongeBob SquarePants—which included a speech bubble with “fun facts about the Holocaust” that had outrageously false claims and distortions.

In a public comment submitted to the Oversight Board, ADL characterized the case currently before the board as “a blatant example of Holocaust denial and distortion” and noted that such content is clearly prohibited as a Tier 1 violation of Meta’s current hate speech policy. After years of being urged by ADL and other civil society organizations, Meta updated its content policies in 2020 to change the social media company’s definition of Holocaust denial and distortion from misinformation to hate speech. 

Holocaust denial and distortion is antisemitism. 

ADL’s comment noted that Holocaust denial and distortion continue to be a serious issue on social media platforms, including Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram. A 2023 report from the ADL Center for Technology and Society found that despite rolling out a new policy in January 2021 forbidding Holocaust denial, Instagram nonetheless continues to allow the display of denial content styled after digital news articles, complete with headlines and pull quotes. Both of Meta’s main social platforms earned a C-minus on ADL’s 2023 Holocaust Denial Report Card for their inconsistent enforcement against such content.

The Oversight Board submission from ADL noted that Holocaust denial continues to be one of the main tools in the arsenal of antisemites, who routinely use social media platforms to spread claims that Jews fabricated evidence of the genocide to gain sympathy and extract reparations from Germany, among other claims.

ADL is the leading anti-hate organization in the world. Founded in 1913, its timeless mission is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all.” Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of antisemitism and bias, using innovation and partnerships to drive impact. A global leader in combating antisemitism, countering extremism and battling bigotry wherever and whenever it happens, ADL works to protect democracy and ensure a just and inclusive society for all.