Facebook Under Fire for Allowing Holocaust Deniers

Social networking site pushed to ban Holocaust denial groups.

ByABC News
May 12, 2009, 12:03 PM

May 12, 2009— -- Abbas Hodroj says he has the right to express his opinions on Facebook.

So when the 25-year-old student from Portland, Ore. heard that the social networking site was under pressure to ban Holocaust denial groups, he decided to join one.

Now, he's one of 39 Facebook users listed as members of the group "Holocaust: A Series of Lies," a community for those who, like Hodroj, do not believe that the genocide of about 6 million Jews during World War II ever took place.

"I've read many articles and different sources that say that did not happen. These historians, they go back in history and document World War II and said it didn't happen," said Hodroj, who was born in Beirut, Lebanon and has lived in the U.S. for 10 years. "The people that they said they survived were in hiding. ...They could be all fabricating [it]."

He said it's not fair that Facebook is under attack for letting groups like his organize on its site.

"I think it's ridiculous because you can say whatever you want as long as you're not causing violence or hurting others," he said.

But many others do not agree with him. And as their voices have grown louder, Facebook has found itself embroiled in yet another controversy related to its internal policies.

After a storm of criticism in the blogosphere, media reports and an open letter published Sunday by Brian Cuban, a Texas attorney and brother of Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, Facebook said it disabled two other controversial groups, "Based on the facts? There was no Holocaust" and "Holocaust is a Holohoax."

But despite stating that the company finds "Holocaust denial repugnant and ignorant," it has decided to let three groups continue to exist.

"We have spent considerable time internally discussing the issues of Holocaust denial and have come to the conclusion that the mere statement of denying the holocaust is not a violation of our terms," Brian Schnitt, a Facebook spokesman, told ABCNews.com in an e-mail.

Schnitt said, however, that in countries where it is illegal to deny the Holocaust, such as Germany, France and Austria, Facebook has decided to ban all Holocaust denial groups.

"Many of us at Facebook have direct personal connection to the Holocaust, through parents who were forced to flee Europe or relatives who could not escape. We believe in Facebook's mission that giving people tools to make the world more open is a better way to combat ignorance or deception than censorship, though we recognize that others ? including those at the company, disagree," he continued.