Facebook, We Need to Talk.
In a world full of walls, social media is a powerful tool to help us share our stories and support one another and our common humanity — no matter our religion, race or nationality. We know Facebook is considering its responsibility to implement guardrails to keep the platform safe and accessible for us to connect across space and difference.
But we are deeply concerned about Facebook's proposed revision of its hate speech policy to consider "Zionist" as a proxy for "Jew" or "Jewish." The proposed policy would too easily mischaracterize conversations about Zionists — and by extension, Zionism — as inherently antisemitic, harming Facebook users and undermining efforts to dismantle real antisemitism and all forms of racism, extremism and oppression. We cannot dismantle antisemitism if we are blocked from voicing our opinions and sharing our experiences with each other. We can discuss, debate and even disagree, as long as we share the belief that all of us deserve safety, freedom, and dignity. We ask Facebook to not erect barriers impeding users from connecting with each other as we engage in this work.
This is the wrong solution to a real and important problem: those who fuel antisemitism online will continue doing so, with or without the word “Zionist.” In fact, many antisemites, especially among white supremacists and evangelical Christian Zionists, explicitly support Zionism and Israel, while engaging in speech and actions that dehumanize, insult, and isolate Jewish people. Importantly, this move will prohibit Palestinians from sharing their daily experiences and histories with the world, be it a photo of the keys to their grandparent’s house lost when attacked by Zionist militias in 1948, or a livestream of Zionist settlers attacking their olive trees in 2021. And it would prevent Jewish users from discussing their relationships to Zionist political ideology.
Facebook scrutinizing specific words won’t keep any of us safe, but it will prevent us from connecting on the political issues important to all of us and block us from holding people and governments accountable for their policies and actions. The current Israeli government, and some of its supporters, have demanded that Facebook add “Zionist” to its hate speech policy. This would shut down conversations about accountability for policies and actions that harm Palestinians. Facebook should refuse to cooperate with those who seek to build more walls to keep us apart. We call on Facebook to not add “Zionist” as a protected category in its hate speech policy.