Facebook has taken great pains to point out that they have consulted “experts” in coming to the conclusion that Holocaust Denial/ The fact of denying the Holocaust does not constitute “hate speech” under their terms of service(TOS). In a interview on CNN.com, Facebook representative Barry Schnitt stated:
“It’s a difficult decision to make. We have a lot of internal debate and we bring in experts to talk about it,” Schnitt said. “Just being offensive or objectionable doesn’t get it taken off Facebook. We want it [the site] to be a place where people can discuss all kinds of ideas, including controversial ones.”
In an email to Chris Matyszczyk on the CNET blog “Technically Correct” Barry Schnitt further stated:
“The experts we’ve talked to have generally been Internet law experts, free speech people, and experts on radicalism and technology. They haven’t been specifically related to the Holocaust but that is a good idea.”
Despite requests to Facebook as to the names of the experts that were consulted on the above issues and on the issue of whether Holocaust Denial constitutes hate speech, there has been no response. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has shown no transparency on this issue. I therefore decided to consult an expert of my own.
Professor Alan M. Dershowitz has been called “the nation’s most peripatetic civil liberties lawyer” and one of its “most distinguished defenders of individual rights,” “the best-known criminal lawyer in the world,” “the top lawyer of last resort,” He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Dershowitz, a graduate of Brooklyn College and Yale Law School, joined the Harvard Law School faculty at age 25 after clerking for Judge David Bazelon and Justice Arthur Goldberg.
He has published more than 100 articles in magazines and journals such as The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal, The New Republic, The Nation, Commentary, Saturday Review, The Harvard Law Review and the Yale Law Journal, and more than 300 of his articles have appeared in syndication in 50 national daily newspapers. Professor Dershowitz is the author of 27 fiction and non-fiction works with a worldwide audience. His most recent titles include Rights From Wrong, The Case For Israel, The Case For Peace, Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence and Preemption: A Knife that Cuts Both Ways, Finding Jefferson – A Lost Letter, A Remarkable Discovery, and The First Amendment In An Age of Terrorism.
You can dispute his qualifications if you like but I doubt there is a court in this country that would not admit him as an expert on hate speech,free speech or any 1st Amendment issue for that matter.
Here is the email I received from Professor Dershowitz regarding the issue of Facebook’s tolerance of Holocaust Denial Groups and whether it constitutes hate speech.
You are absolutely correct that Facebook took the position that it censors nothing,that would be one thing. But to espouse the substantive position that H denial is not hate speech is very dangerous and unacceptable.
An expert has spoken right to the point. Are you listening Mark Zuckerberg?