WASHINGTON -- Facebook is making a free speech argument to defend its policy of tolerating Holocaust denial posts on its platform.
The tech company allows "inaccurate" information to remain on the site that does not cross into the realm of hate speech, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, said earlier this month in an interview with Recode. That policy was underscored by several other Facebook executives in recent days.
But Paul Packer, chairman of the Commission for the Preservation of America's Heritage Abroad, confronted the company's leadership last week over the policy, sending the company a pointed letter and receiving Facebook's vice president of global public policy for a contentious meeting.
"Holocaust denial is a crime in Germany, and a crime in France– we know its blocked in those countries by Facebook," where they geotag posts, Packer told The Jerusalem Post after the meeting.
He questioned why Facebook would not replicate the policy in the United States. "It has no place in America," he added, "to rewrite history."
Responding to Packer's suggestion, Facebook told the Post in a statement that it is simply adhering to local law, which in Europe requires the posts be removed and in America does not.
"When something on Facebook or Instagram is reported to us as violating local law, but doesn't go against our Community Standards, we may restrict the content's availability in the country where it is alleged to be illegal," the Facebook spokesman said. "When we restrict content based on local law, we do so only in the country or region where it is alleged to be illegal."
"In this case," the spokesman continued, "holocaust denial does not violate local law in the United States so it would not be restricted as it would be Germany, where the law differs."
Packer argued that Facebook has proven its ability to fight Holocaust denial in Europe– and that, while the law does not require it to do so, nothing is stopping the company from continuing with the practice in the states.
Zuckerberg's comments sparked concern among American Jewish organizations, and prompted admonition from the German government which reminded the Facebook executive that Holocaust denial is against the law there.
"What Mark Zuckerberg wishes or demands for the American or international market is not possible in Germany," the German Justice Ministry said in a statement.