Exclusive: Randi Zuckerberg responds to her brother's Holocaust comments

Mark Zuckerberg's sister Randi, weighing in on her brother's controversial comments about Holocaust deniers, forceful...

Posted: Jul 20, 2018 10:44 AM
Updated: Jul 20, 2018 10:44 AM

Mark Zuckerberg's sister Randi, weighing in on her brother's controversial comments about Holocaust deniers, forcefully denounced such people and "their hateful, disgusting rhetoric." But she said banning them from social media "will not make them go away," and she emphasized the importance of a healthy debate over the role tech companies should play in policing content.

Randi Zuckerberg, who has long worked with many Jewish community organizations, spoke out Thursday in a statement she provided exclusively to CNNMoney. Her comments came one day after her brother drew criticism for telling Recode's Kara Swisher that some Holocaust deniers "aren't intentionally getting it wrong," and so Facebook would not remove their posts.

"As a leader in the Jewish community, and someone who has worked at the ground floor of social media, I felt a responsibility to weigh in," she wrote.

Mark Zuckerberg's comments drew widespread condemnation on social media and in the press, prompting him to clarify his statement hours later. "I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn't intend to defend the intent of people who deny that," he wrote in an email that Swisher published on the tech news website Recode.

Related: Mark Zuckerberg clarified his Holocaust comments

Randi Zuckerberg, an early Facebook employee and successful entrepreneur in her own right, said her brother "could have chosen his words differently," but she applauded him for "navigating this incredibly difficult new world where the notion of free speech is constantly changing." And she lamented that a platform that has connected Jewish organizations and united people around the world also can be used as a weapon against them.

"Unfortunately, when we give a voice to everyone, we give it to people who use that voice for good and to people who abuse that voice," she wrote. "Organizations doing impactful work now have more powerful tools than ever before, yet the nasty dark underbelly that exists right beneath the surface has access to those exact same tools."

Removing those tools from the hands of Holocaust deniers and others who espouse hatred and bigotry won't make them go away, she said. "While it can be appalling to see what some people say, I don't think living in a sterile, Stepford-like online community where we simply press the delete button on the ugly reality of how people feel is helpful either," she wrote.

Related: Facebook touts fight on fake news, but struggles to explain why Infowars isn't banned

What's needed, she said, is a vigorous national debate on whether Holocaust deniers deserve any platform at all. That decision, she said, does not rest with social media platforms alone. Several countries have enacted laws against Holocaust denial, and she suggested that the United States follow their lead.

"As much as I disagree with Holocaust deniers having a voice at all, the reality is that it is not currently considered a crime in the United States, and if we want our social networks to remove this hateful speech and follow the lead of many countries in Europe who denounce it as criminal, we need to expand the conversation more broadly and legislate at a national level," she wrote.

That said, Zuckerberg did call on the public to insist that tech companies and elected leaders "keep working with as much transparency as possible to keep revisiting these policies and to be ready to act swiftly at the fine line where speech turns to action."

"I wish that these platforms didn't give a voice to those who cry out for divestment from Israel, make anti-Jewish remarks, and many of the other issues affecting our community today," she wrote. "But silencing everyone - or worse, silencing selectively - would be far more nefarious."

Randi Zuckerberg's full statement:

Yesterday, my brother discussed the existence of Holocaust deniers on Facebook in an interview with Kara Swisher at Recode. Since then, it has sparked a tremendous amount of dialogue around the role of Facebook in policing hate speech and if social media should be held to a different standard of content than what is legally considered criminal in the United States. As a leader in the Jewish community, and someone who has worked at the ground floor of social media, I felt a responsibility to weigh in.

I am appalled and heartbroken by the fact that there are still people who deny the Holocaust. My husband and I have spent the last decade involved with Jewish organizations such as Birthright Israel, PJ Library, Reboot, Wexner, The Hartman Institute, the CJM, and JCCs and Federations across the US and Canada, who work tirelessly to ensure that Jewish culture, art and heritage are preserved, and that there are safe spaces to celebrate our culture while also enjoying an increasingly assimilated, multicultural world. I feel sick to my stomach seeing such hateful, disgusting rhetoric.

But as a proud techie and early Facebook employee, I recognize that none of these organizations would have the reach, fundraising capabilities, and impact that they currently do without social media. The very same tools embolden our enemies and simultaneously bring our community together to rally us against intolerance and discrimination.

Banning Holocaust deniers from social media will not make them go away. Those bent on lying, sowing misunderstanding, and breeding hate will never be truly silenced. Let this remind us why we need our Jewish institutions more now than ever.

Unfortunately, when we give a voice to everyone, we give it to people who use that voice for good and to people who abuse that voice. Speak to a million people and you'll get a million different definitions of who fits into which of those categories. Organizations doing impactful work now have more powerful tools than ever before, yet the nasty dark underbelly that exists right beneath the surface has access to those exact same tools. While it can be appalling to see what some people say, I don't think living in a sterile, Stepford-like online community where we simply press the delete button on the ugly reality of how people feel is helpful either.

I don't want to live in a world where Holocaust deniers are given a voice and I think we absolutely need to be having a debate at a national level on whether they deserve a place on any platform at all. At the same time, I also don't want to live in a world where tech companies get to decide who has the right to speech and get to police content in a way that is different from what our legal system dictates.

While my brother could have chosen his words differently when talking about Holocaust denial on Facebook, I applaud him for being a leader at the forefront of navigating this incredibly difficult new world where the notion of free speech is constantly changing. I also applaud everyone who advocates to hold our tech companies and our leaders accountable - we should expect, and even demand, that they keep working with as much transparency as possible to keep revisiting these policies and to be ready to act swiftly at the fine line where speech turns to action. That being said, as much as I disagree with Holocaust deniers having a voice at all, the reality is that it is not currently considered a crime in the United States, and if we want our social networks to remove this hateful speech and follow the lead of many countries in Europe who denounce it as criminal, we need to expand the conversation more broadly and legislate at a national level.

I wish that these platforms didn't give a voice to those who cry out for divestment from Israel, make anti-Jewish remarks, and many, many other issues. But silencing everyone - or worse, silencing selectively - would be far more nefarious. Rather than rally against technology, let's recognize that this hate exists, that it's not going anywhere, and use our anger as a rallying cry to call for legislation to make Holocaust denial a crime, while supporting the organizations, leaders, and institutions working tirelessly on behalf of six million Jews and their families around the world so that we never, ever forget.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 52037

Reported Deaths: 2762
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion12111693
Lake5677249
Elkhart366260
Allen2971134
St. Joseph221169
Hamilton1735101
Cass16489
Hendricks1470100
Johnson1351118
Porter84938
Vanderburgh8016
Tippecanoe7859
Clark71944
Madison68164
LaPorte62928
Howard61058
Bartholomew60545
Kosciusko5844
Marshall57011
Noble52428
Boone49244
LaGrange48710
Delaware48152
Jackson4793
Hancock47436
Shelby46025
Floyd41844
Monroe36128
Morgan34431
Grant32226
Dubois3196
Henry30318
Montgomery29720
Clinton2903
White27810
Dearborn27123
Warrick26829
Vigo2618
Decatur25732
Lawrence25325
Harrison21822
Greene19932
Miami1942
Jennings17912
Putnam1748
DeKalb1694
Scott1659
Wayne1596
Daviess15117
Perry15110
Steuben1402
Orange13823
Jasper1362
Ripley1357
Franklin1288
Gibson1282
Wabash1193
Carroll1142
Starke1093
Fayette1087
Whitley1086
Newton10110
Huntington942
Jefferson872
Wells831
Randolph804
Fulton761
Jay720
Knox710
Washington681
Pulaski661
Clay645
Posey640
Rush623
Spencer591
Owen531
Benton510
Sullivan511
Adams491
Brown441
Blackford402
Fountain362
Crawford330
Tipton331
Switzerland320
Parke280
Martin260
Ohio230
Vermillion200
Warren151
Union140
Pike120
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 66853

Reported Deaths: 3064
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin12301449
Cuyahoga9359399
Hamilton7046208
Lucas3079306
Marion275539
Montgomery257936
Summit2382209
Pickaway222942
Mahoning1971239
Butler189747
Columbiana139560
Stark1244116
Lorain118970
Trumbull106678
Warren101826
Clark82010
Delaware76315
Fairfield71917
Lake62723
Tuscarawas62110
Licking60012
Medina59932
Belmont57324
Clermont5157
Miami51431
Wood51051
Portage50960
Ashtabula45244
Geauga43143
Richland3906
Allen38541
Wayne37655
Greene3659
Mercer30410
Erie30122
Holmes2625
Darke26126
Huron2602
Madison2259
Ottawa21724
Athens1921
Sandusky17615
Ross1503
Washington14720
Putnam14515
Coshocton1434
Crawford1405
Jefferson1272
Morrow1271
Hardin12512
Union1151
Auglaize1124
Muskingum1061
Preble961
Lawrence920
Clinton912
Monroe8917
Hancock871
Hocking839
Guernsey824
Scioto770
Shelby774
Williams772
Carroll713
Logan711
Ashland692
Fulton680
Wyandot665
Brown621
Fayette580
Highland581
Champaign571
Knox571
Defiance553
Van Wert491
Perry481
Seneca442
Henry370
Paulding340
Jackson310
Pike290
Adams282
Vinton232
Gallia211
Noble140
Harrison131
Meigs130
Morgan120
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
68° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 68°
Angola
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 67°
Feels Like: 64°
Huntington
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 64°
Van Wert
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 64°
Storms Late Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events