What Companies Should Learn from Mark Zuckerberg’s comments on Holocaust denial and other mistakes – The Need to Show Conviction
Last week, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg stated in an interview that he will not remove statements nor take down posts denying the Holocaust-the systematic, documented murder of 6,000,000 Jews.
To state it bluntly: I am appalled at Zuckerberg and Facebook for allowing Holocaust deniers to use the social network to spew blatant anti-Semitism and outright lies. As the child of Holocaust survivors and the head of a successful financial PR agency, I believe I speak with some authority on this issue. With more than 30 years of experience as a communications professional, I know a thing or two about tone, the power of words, and what it means to be a leader.
My mother, of blessed memory, who on a daily basis stepped over corpses and starving children in the Warsaw ghetto before surviving the bombing of Warsaw and being shipped to a slave labor camp, always admonished me to demonstrate “civil courage.” That is, having the conviction of principle to do the right thing and act in a certain way—the right way, even if doing so meant that you needed to step a little outside of your comfort zone.
We tell our clients—asset and wealth managers who regularly face wide swings of volatility, underperformance and even redemptions—that they need to demonstrate conviction to their investors—during good times and bad.
It’s this sense of conviction and civil courage that are missing from Zuckerberg’s thinking and actions (or lack thereof in this case).
Zuckerberg knows that Holocaust denial is hateful and a lie.
Although I am far from an expert on the first amendment, it’s clear to me that Holocaust denial is hateful speech directed at Jewish people.
It shocks me that Mark Zuckerberg, who is Jewish himself, isn’t censoring Holocaust deniers although Facebook is preventing many other groups and individuals from spreading hate and inciting people to violence. Even though Zuckerberg says that he is personally offended by Holocaust deniers, I don’t buy his rationale as to why he’s allowing them to continue unabated. He stated, “…I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”
I am not sure what he is referring to. Holocaust deniers are not “getting it wrong,” they are just filled with hate and bigotry. Is that even debatable? Nearly everyone from the ADL to the government of Germany has denounced Zuckerberg’s stance.
It doesn’t take a PhD in ethics or a constitutional expert to understand that the perpetuation of a lie, if told often enough, soon becomes truth. After all, it was none other than Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s minister of propaganda who said, “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
Facebook has taken many steps to correct its data breaches and abuse of its platform for nefarious purposes. It also is taking corrective actions to block out what it deems as hate speech, especially speech that could incite violence.
We are living in a time when the very notion of civility and tolerance is being questioned on a daily basis. Zuckerberg needs to show some civil courage and do the right thing. Holocaust denial has no place on Facebook, in our public discourse, or anywhere.
Article by Richard Dukas, Chairman & CEO, Dukas Linden Public Relations