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Facebook conjuring up dead Nazis

Facebook evokes the dead Nazis

A report issued by the Simon Wiesenthal Center published last week repeats what we already know – the network is also helpful for fanatics and psychos, neo-Nazis and fascists, and plain Holocaust deniers. In 2009, researchers from the Simon Wiesenthal Center found over 11,500 hates sites, pages in social networks, Twitter accounts and other websites – a rise of almost 20% in comparison to the 10,000 found last year.

He is doubtlessly addicted to war. Whether the war of the Mafia, or the World at War, Joseph Goebbels likes to pass time on Facebook between bombings and extermination on these two network games. And the Goebbels (there are at least two, with 200 members) are definitely not alone. Other high-ranking Nazis have their own page on Facebook: Goering (34 fans), vonRibbentrop (30 fans), and Mengele (76 fans) roam among us unhindered on the social network, as if the Third Reich was never defeated. So does Mussolini.

Adolf Hitler is the only one you won’t find here. If you try to virtually revive him, you will find that that is where Facebook draws the line: “Our automatic systems will not approve this name,” says a notice against a red background. “If you think it is a mistake, please contact us.” Additional search shows that some have found a way to work around it, using for example, Adolf Shmitler or Hitleer.

Should we treat several forged accounts of senior Nazis with the same severity we treat real hatred over the net? As always, the answer is vague. Goebbels and his fondness for global war should not really turn on red lights about a second Holocaust. On the other hand, roaming among Goebbels’ cronies shows that dead Nazis attract quite a few living fascists and neo-Nazis from all over the world.

Can Facebook, with its 400 million users, do anything about it? The company said to Ha’aretz that they take the user conditions that prohibit content consisting of hatred and threats seriously. “We are particularly sensitive to groups and pages that threaten to implement violence, and they are quickly removed from the website, says Elisabeth Linder, one of Facebook’s spokespersons. On the other hand, “We do not remove groups or pages that oppose states, political entities, or ideas.” She claims that the idea is to reach a balance between freedom of speech and providing a sense of security for groups and individuals.

In the past Facebook was the focal point of a controversy about freedom of speech and freedom of incitement. Advocate Brian Koban has been fighting for a long time to remove groups who deny the Holocaust. Facebook disagreed, claiming that they seek to be a place in which “ideas, and even controversial ones, can be raised for discussion.”

Some of the groups against which Koban was fighting are currently closed. But if you look up one of the groups against which Koban fought, “holohoax, the Holocaust Hoax” through Bing, Microsoft’s search engine (which is combined with Facebook)m the site will lead you to the same revolting group, this time through Yahoo groups. If you really want to make an authentic Facebook protest, join the group called “Anyone who hates Hitler the mother fucker, and doesn’t join us, is a Nazi.”

Oded Yaron, published in Ha’aretz, March 20, 2010.

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