MPs criticise Facebook’s failure to remove antisemitic and anti-Muslim pages

Facebook were criticised by the Home Affairs select committee after the social media company had failed to remove anti-Muslim and antisemitic pages.

Yvette Cooper MP, chairwoman of the committee, added that the pages “The Truth About the Talmud” and “Ban Islam” do ‘have some deeply offensive and racist things on them’.

Simon Milner, Facebook’s Policy Director for the UK, Middle East, and Africa, countered that: “These pages, in and of themselves, do not violate, because we make it clear that you can criticise religions, but you cannot express hate against people because of their religion.” Mr Milner added that both pages were not ‘designed’ to attack Muslims and Jews.

This, however, is not the case. The profile picture of the “Truth About the Talmud” page, which has been publicly accessible since August 24, 2013, infers that the Talmud is ‘satanic’.

Not only is this point offensive to many, the antisemitic caricature is lifted from Nazi-era propaganda. The caricature first appeared in a 1938 edition (N.28) of the notorious Der Stürmer tabloid. Arguably, Nazi Germany’s most scabrous, incendiary, and popular printed propaganda sheet.

The ‘About Me’ section of the page links to the Facebook page of David Duke – a former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. This page also ‘likes’ William Pierce – the founder of the neo-Nazi group National Alliance.

Pierce authored the Turner Diaries, a book which influenced anti-Muslim terrorist Pavlo Lapshyn and Zack Davies, the neo-Nazi extremist who attempted to behead a Sikh dentist to ‘avenge’ the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby.

Other concerning content includes its use of antisemitic canards to push ‘anti-Zionist’ narratives.

Regarding the “Ban Islam” page however, the matter is more complex, as there are multiple pages with that name. Without knowing which page the committee reported, we have chosen to highlight two examples. In both examples, the pro-Trump messaging swells amid anti-Muslim and anti-Obama content.

Such polarising echo chambers intensify and incubate anti-Muslim fervour. It’s therefore, unsurprising that memes calling for nuclear strikes on Islam are welcomed in the comments.

In another post, the controversial album cover for the 1996 album Heavy Petting Zoo, from the American punk rock band NOFX, became an anti-Muslim meme. The added caption infers that Muslims, especially converts, are drawn towards bestiality.

When the committee pressed Mr Milner further for comment, he added that neither page ‘are run by hate organisations.’ He added that Facebook did remove reported content, just not the pages entirely.

MPs went on to criticise Google, Facebook and Twitter’s handling of extremist and terroristic content on their platforms.

The hate crime and its violent consequences inquiry remain ongoing.

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Categories: Antisemitism, Hate Speech, News