August 10, 2020
Facebook, Inc. Board of Directors
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025
(Sent via email)
Dear Facebook Board of Directors,
We write on behalf of the StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department and the StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism, divisions of StandWithUs, an international, non-profit education organization supporting Israel and combating antisemitism. We write to you today regarding your recent announcement of new policies to fight hate speech in Facebook advertising. While we commend you for “creating a higher standard for hateful content in ads,” we believe that even more can be done to fight antisemitism specifically. We encourage you to fully adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism as the cornerstone of your hate speech policy regarding antisemitism, and to utilize this definition as a guide when addressing potential incidents of antisemitic discrimination on your platform.
We agree that eliminating harmful content targeting the “physical safety, health or survival of” protected groups is a policy change at Facebook well warranted. We are grateful for that change. It sends a clear and important message that certain types of prejudice have no place in civil discourse and are not welcome on your platform.
However, we believe this policy change will be more easily accomplished and strengthened in a way that protects Jews from bias and hatred by adopting the IHRA definition of antisemitism. This definition has been adopted or recognized by numerous countries and government bodies across the world, including the European Union, the Government of Canada, the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Education, and was used as a template for an antisemitism law passed by the Florida state legislature in June 2019. Adopting the IHRA definition is in accordance with recommendations outlined in “The New Antisemites” report, which calls on social media platforms to eliminate antisemitic content by adopting the IHRA working definition as the basis for content removal policies. Furthermore, Facebook’s Director of Content Policy Peter Stern attested to the working definition’s usefulness when Facebook first developed its hate speech policy. Now more than ever is the time to take that crucial next step and fully adopt the IHRA definition.
StandWithUs believes that the free exchange of ideas is paramount to Facebook’s mission and viability. We recognize the necessity of creating an environment that promotes dialogue, civil discourse, and the free exchange of ideas between people of all backgrounds and viewpoints. We also believe that corporate leaders have a responsibility to use their own free speech rights to condemn and prevent the spread of antisemitism with all the tools at their disposal.
Antisemitism manifests itself on Facebook in myriad ways, including the rejection of Jewish self-determination, Holocaust revisionism and denial, and the application of double standards toward the Jewish state and people. Unfortunately, Jews are being targeted and physically attacked in record numbers throughout the world. Jews also overwhelmingly report that online antisemitic harassment and bullying is the most acute form of Jew hatred they experience. The full IHRA working definition of antisemitism provides Facebook with an effective, neutral, and nuanced tool to protect Jewish users from online hate.
We urge Facebook to put words into action and power behind their policy change commitment by fully adopting the IHRA working definition to fight the world’s oldest hatred.
Thank you for your leadership during thee challenging times.
Roz Rothstein CEO and Co-Founder StandWithUs
Carly F. Gammill
StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism
StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department
StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department