No Room for Holocaust Deniers

As community professionals, it’s our duty to create inclusive spaces for our community members. This means setting the stage for them and making sure that they have everything they need to be successful within the community, and in some cases, protecting them from hate-driven vitriol.

And while many of us have created clear guidelines explaining that hate speech and violence are not permitted in our communities, platforms like Facebook and Reddit have had a harder time defending their users from hate speech. After hearing Mark Zuckerberg’s explanation for allowing Holocaust deniers on Facebook, AskHistorians moderator Andrés Pertierra explained in a now viral tweet that Holocaust deniers post decontextualized information or flat-out lies with the goal of undermining people’s belief in the Holocaust with the hope of ultimately radicalize them.

In his discussion with Patrick, Andrés brings up an ultimate truth – that when we moderate against Holocaust deniers or others posting hate speech, we’re showing our communities that we care about protecting them and that we care about the integrity of the space that we have created with them.

Patrick and Andrés also discuss:

  • How Andrés and other moderators can tell if someone is posing questions in good faith
  • The community guidelines that AskHistorians uses to keep hateful posts at bay
  • Why moderation makes sense from a business perspective

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Big Quotes

“The position that we should not tolerate [Holocaust denial] within our community because it’s being done in bad faith eventually won out. It became part of a broader, more tougher moderation policy which has helped our community, despite the fact that it keeps growing and growing, to have a reputation of one of the less cesspooly sides of Reddit.” –@ASPertierra

“It’s actually very easy to suss out who’s a JAQer (Just Asking a Question) and who’s not. … First, [their] thread is removed. … [Then] we deploy a macro, and it has responses to all of the most common Holocaust denialist points. It offers resources; points people in the right direction. … Based on how they react to that, we have a fairly good idea if this is a JAQer or not. Because a JAQer is going to respond in bad faith. They’re going to be angry, they may even notice, ‘My thread was removed. Why is my thread removed?’ Because what they want is attention. They don’t genuinely want their question answered.” –@ASPertierra

About Andrés Pertierra

Born and raised in Washington, DC, Andrés Pertierra completed his undergraduate degree in history at the University of Havana, graduating with honors in 2013. His undergraduate thesis was on American spy networks in Cuba in the early 19th century. After completing the prestigious Victor S. Navasky internship program at The Nation magazine, Andrés published articles on Cuba and U.S. immigration policy in several publications, including The Nation, Jacobin, and Rewire. Andrés has been a moderator on the AskHistorians subreddit since 2016 and a co-host of the AskHistorians podcast since 2017.

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