Facebook won’t remove ‘Jewish ritual murder’ page

When it comes to manifestations of anti-Semitism, Bernie Farber has seen it all. But the former CEO of Canadian Jewish Congress, and before that its director of community relations, was shocked to find an anti-Semitic blood libel rooted in medieval prejudice featured prominently on a 21st century technology.

Almost as bad, said Farber, is that Facebook, the social networking platform, has refused to do anything about it.

Despite his complaint, Facebook refuses to remove a page that labels itself, “Jewish ritual murder community.”

Decorated with Christian iconography, the page carries the accusation that, “Jews admit ritual consumption of Muslim and Christian children’s blood to gain success in life.”

The site includes images of newspaper articles, photographs and other items that purport to show that Jews feast on gentile blood.

Farber believes the posting violates Facebook’s own criteria for maintaining community standards. In fact, in a section labelled “hate speech” that is part of “Facebook Community Standards,” the social networking site states, “Facebook does not permit hate speech.”

“While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.”

Accusations of Jewish ritual murders fall squarely in that definition, said Farber. For centuries, that sort of allegation “led to pogroms… and led the way to the Holocaust.”

“Jewish ritual murder is the epitome of not upholding community standards. It’s sickening.”

Nevertheless, when he complained to Facebook online, he was told in a written response, “We reviewed the page you reported for harassment and found it doesn’t violate our community standards.”

In an email response to a CJN inquiry, a Facebook spokesperson stated, “We aim to find the right balance between giving people a place to express themselves and promoting a welcoming and safe environment for our diverse, global community. Not all disagreeable or disturbing content violates our community standards. For this reason, we offer people who use Facebook the ability to customize and control what they see by un-following, blocking and hiding the posts, people, pages and applications they don’t want to see.”

“I thought it would be easy to explain why this page would come down,” Farber said. On an unrelated occasion, in October 2014, Facebook removed the photo of a woman breastfeeding a baby on the grounds it violated its policy on nudity, but it wouldn’t take down blatant anti-Semitic material. (Facebook eventually republished the photos after a public backlash.)

“Facebook ought to be ashamed of itself.”

Farber said he doesn’t know where the page is hosted, but he is asking York Regional Police to investigate the host for violating Canada’s anti-hate laws.

Making the incident even more disturbing, he said, was that the page had received 792 “likes.”