UKLFI together with over 100 other organisations wrote a joint letter last week to the directors of Facebook, urging it to adopt the IHRA working definition of antisemitism as the cornerstone of its hate speech policy regarding antisemitism.
Our letter drew attention to the acceptance of the IHRA definition by numerous countries around the world and its value as an effective, neutral and nuanced tool to protect Jewish users from hate speech and imagery that incites hate and often leads to violence. It noted that today’s antisemitism is expressed in various ways, including the rejection of Jewish self-determination and the application of double standards towards the Jewish state and people.
Facebook has responded by a letter from Monika Bickert, Vice President, Content Policy. She states that the IHRA definition “has been valuable – both in informing our own approach and definitions, and as a point of entry for candid policy discussions with Jewish communities around the world”.
She accepts that “Our content reviewers need very clear lines that they can fairly and consistently apply when implementing our policies” and claims that “our engagement with Jewish organizations has helped us draw those lines”, but overlooks the fact that numerous Jewish organisations that signed the letter do not regard such lines as have been drawn as satisfactory.
However, she concludes: “We appreciate your desire to reach out and discuss these important issues with us and we hope to continue the dialogue with your important organizations”.
We intend to continue our engagement and hope to persuade Facebook to adopt the IHRA definition in full.
Jonathan Turner, chief executive of UKLFI, commented “We welcome Ms Bickert’s willingness to engage and hope that this will result in a significant improvement. Facebook’s handling of complaints of antisemitic hate speech has been unsatisfactory and inconsistent. There is a real need to apply a working definition that addresses modern forms of antisemitism and the IHRA definition is the best and most widely endorsed definition available”.