On Holocaust Remembrance Day, UNESCO mobilizes governments, private sector, including Facebook to fight denial and antisemitism

UNESCO, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and Facebook collaborated to ensure that denial, distortion and disinformation about the Holocaust are not spread on the social media platform.

On the occasion of the International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust on Wednesday (27 January), UNESCO announced in Paris a number of initiatives to combat denial and antisemitism, during a high-level ceremony organized with the United Nations, in partnership with the International Holocaust Remembrance Association (IRHA). UN Secretary-General António Guterres, Director-General Azoulay, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel participated.

UNESCO, the World Jewish Congress (WJC) and Facebook collaborated to ensure that denial, distortion and disinformation about the Holocaust are not spread on the social media platform. From Wednesday, Facebook redirected its users searching for terms associated with the Holocaust, denial or distortion to the www.aboutholocaust.org website, outside Facebook. Hosted by the WJC and UNESCO, the website sets out the correct historical facts about the Holocaust. This initiative follow's Facebook's announcement in October 2020 that the denial of the Holocaust would be banned on all its platforms, and reflects a joint commitment by the three organizations to counter antisemitism and Holocaust denial, which has been on the rise in recent years, notably on social media.

“Transmitting the history of the Holocaust is key to combatting current denial and conspiracy theories,” said UNESCO Director-General, Audrey Azoulay.

“It is key to helping people acquire the necessary skills to reject antisemitism, racism and hate and to challenge those who seek to exploit ignorance. We must join forces to share factual and reliable information on social media platforms. This partnership marks a very significant step in the right direction,” he said. 

World Jewish Congress President Ron Lauder said, “We are deeply gratified to work with UNESCO and Facebook to ensure that Facebook’s 2.7 billion users are provided with accurate, comprehensive information about the Holocaust. Connecting Facebook users to AboutHolocaust.org will contribute greatly to promoting tolerance and empathy as the antidote to resurgent antisemitism, xenophobia, bigotry, and hate.”

Facebook's Integrity Vice President Guy Rosen added: “To combat rising anti-Semitism and ignorance about the Holocaust, it’s important that people learn about the events that led to the genocide of one-third of the Jewish people. We’re proud to work with partners like UNESCO and World Jewish Congress. We look forward to our continued partnership to fight hatred and prejudice and encourage understanding and respect for all people.” 

In order to counter antisemitism and Holocaust denial, UNESCO has been also mobilizing governments. UNESCO announced on Wednesday that  Canada joined the list of countries investing in UNESCOs Global programme to advance Holocaust education as a tool to prevent future genocide, implemented with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, with a contribution of US$ 1.6 million.

“We will be joining with UNESCO in prioritizing the combating of anti-Semitism and genocide prevention education.” said Irwin Cotler, Canada's Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism.

UNESCO also welcomed photographer Luigi Toscano’s exhibition ‘Lest We Forget’ on its walls in Paris, with the portraits of more than 200 survivors of Nazi persecution (7 place de Fontenoy Paris 7, France). The exhibition will be on display until 12 February. It is the world’s largest installation of the project, already seen by more than one million visitors worldwide.


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First Published:Jan. 29, 2021, 11:34 a.m.

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