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ADL report: Holocaust denial in social media

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) published their annual Online Holocaust Denial Report Card on Monday, rating the top ten most popular social media and gaming platforms on the degree to which they aid the spread of Holocaust denial content. 

The report's introduction points out that even though the Holocaust is one of the most well-documented atrocities in history, antisemites continue to try to cast doubt and downplay the facts. The ADL's Center for Technology and Society (CTS) reviewed the policies of ten major media platforms and looked for examples of Holocaust denial content on their sites. 

The CTS reported the Holocaust denial content they found under the platforms' anti-hate policies from personal "unofficial" accounts, and again from "trusted flagger" accounts. This latter type of account is often prioritized on large platforms. 

The platforms were scored based on how they handled Holocaust denial content in terms of policy and enforcement of it. Across the board, all platforms scored generally poorly. The highest grades went to YouTube and Twitch, which both received a C+.  TikTok, Facebook (including Instagram, owned by Meta), Reddit and Discord all got a C-. Twitter came in last of the social media sites with a D-.

Youtube, Facebook, Reddit and Discord all showed improvement since the 2021 evaluation, raising their scores up by one-third grade level each. Twitch, TikTok and Twitter all did worse than they had previously. 

What kind of content was found across different platforms? 

On Twitter, Holocaust denial content tended to have embedded media rather than in tweets themselves, according to the ADL report. On Reddit, the ADL was able to find conspiracy theory-based subreddits like r/conspiracy and r/conspiracyNOPOL which contained Holocaust denial content. Some of these subreddits had only a few dozen members, while others had thousands of users. 

Instagram and TikTok Holocaust denial content was found to be modeled after news reporting, with headlines, pull wuotes and interviews with purported Holocaust survivors. One of the big claims circulating on TikTok was that the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust, 6 million, was severely overblown. 

Facebook posts also focused on the 6 million figure, sharing links to articles or original graphics debunking the "myths" of the Holocaust. Holocaust denial videos on YouTube, according to the ADL, "are a combination of inflammatory interviews by conspiracy theorists and documentary-style videos that purport to reveal the 'truth' of the Holocaust."

What does the ADL recommend for platforms going forward?

First of all, the ADL recommends that all platforms ban Holocaust denial. Further, it recommends that sites encourage reporting Holocaust denial rhetoric and make the reporting process easy. Site managers are encouraged to consult with experts and commit to learning about Holocaust denial as a phenomenon in general. 

"Social media platforms should collaborate with one another to minimize the spread of Holocaust denial content between platforms, spot emerging trends, and develop best practices," the report added. "They can engage leaders in academia and civil society to develop robust strategies to combat online hate."