Facebook Will Remove Content That Uses ‘Zionist’ as Proxy for Antisemitic Hate Speech

Prominent Jewish organizations applaud the social media platform’s landmark policy.

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Facebook’s parent company, Meta, will soon begin taking down posts that use the term “Zionists” as a proxy for hate speech against Jews, the social media conglomerate announced on Tuesday. 

The landmark policy will extend the criteria for antisemitic and what it calls “tier 1 hate speech” to include misuse of the term “Zionist” when it is “used as a proxy to refer to Jewish or Israeli people.”

“We do not allow content that attacks people on the basis of protected characteristics such as nationality, race, or religion, among others,” the announcement reads. “We do allow people to criticize adherents of political affiliations and ideologies.” 

However, for cases in which the term is used to refer to “supporters of a political movement,” the policy will not be invoked. 

The previous policy stipulated that use of the term “Zionist” would be flagged as hate speech under two narrow circumstances: When Zionists are compared to rats — “reflecting known antisemitic imagery” — or when the term is obviously being used to directly reference Jews or Israelis: “Today the Jews celebrate Passover. I hate those Zionists,” they provide as an example. 

Now, the policy will target incidents in which “Zionist” is used to invoke harmful antisemetic stereotypes, to dehumanize Jewish people, to call for harm towards Jews, and to deny the existence of Zionists.  

The social media company came to the decision after consulting 145 stakeholders, including political scientists, historians, legal scholars, digital and civil rights groups, freedom of expression advocates, and human rights experts, the announcement notes. 

The announcement was met with praise and support by Jewish leaders and organizations. 

The World Jewish Congress, which has long advocated for such a policy change, described the announcement as “a significant step in combating the veiled antisemitism that has proliferated under the guise of political discourse and has skyrocketed since October 7.”

“By recognizing and addressing the misuse of the term ‘Zionist,’ Meta is taking a bold stand against those who seek to mask their hatred of Jews,” said the president of the World Jewish Congress, Ronald Lauder. 

Mr. Lauder notes that he and his organization appreciate that Meta “truly listened to the voices of Jewish communities that we work with” and hopes that other social media platforms will follow suit. 

The American Jewish Committee also offered its support for the move on X, writing that, “We thank Meta for leading the industry in addressing hate speech and listening to the concerns of the Jewish community, including those of AJC.”

The New York Sun

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