Facebook has updated its policies to prohibit content that “denies or distorts the Holocaust” – just two years after Mark Zuckerberg suggested such posts were permissible under freedom of speech.
The social network says it will also re-direct anyone who searches for Holocaust denial to “credible information” on another page.
Both updates will begin later this year.
This follows a clampdown on other forms of hate speech – including banning white supremacist groups and militia groups.
These changes have been introduced to help combat misinformation on the site ahead of the US presidential election in November.
The social network’s head of content policy, Monika Bickert, said these moves mark “another step” in Facebook’s efforts to combat hate on its platform.
“Our decision is supported by the well-documented rise in anti-semitism globally and the alarming level of ignorance about the Holocaust, especially among young people”, Ms Bickert said.
“According to a recent survey of adults in the US aged 18-39, almost a quarter said they believed the Holocaust was a myth, that it had been exaggerated or they weren’t sure.”
She added that the company had made a “major change” since Mr Zuckerberg’s comments in 2018.
The Facebook boss had argued that Holocaust denial and conspiracy theories, while “deeply offensive” should not be removed as those posting may not be “intentionally getting it wrong”.
However, two years on, Mr Zuckerberg says his thinking on the matter has “evolved”.
He said: “I’ve struggled with the tension between standing for free expression and the harm caused by minimizing or denying the horror of the Holocaust.”
“My own thinking has evolved as I’ve seen data showing an increase in antisemitic violence, as have our wider policies on hate speech.
“Drawing the right lines between what is and isn’t acceptable speech isn’t straightforward, but with the current state of the world, I believe this is the right balance.”
However Facebook has warned these new changes will take time to implement – and “cannot happen overnight”.
Ms Bickert said: “There is a range of content that can violate these policies, and it will take some time to train our reviewers and systems on enforcement.
“We are grateful to many partners for their input and candour as we work to keep our platform safe.”
Danny Stone, chief executive of the Antisemitism Policy Trust said he hopes the updates will encourage others in the industry to tackle hate speech the same way.
“We welcome this decision by Facebook to fully ban abuse and denial of the Holocaust, which has so far been allowed to fester on the platform,” he said.
“It finally aligns Facebook’s policies to ban antisemitism and hate speech. Previously, Jew-hatred disguised as Holocaust denial and revisionism was allowed unabated, meaning Jewish users who saw this sort of content could not do anything to combat it.
“In removing it from the platform, Facebook is sending a message that Jewish and other people’s collective memories and experiences of this horror are no longer fair game.
He added: “Denial will no longer be so easy to share or be used to influence others on Facebook.”