Some Holocaust Denial Facebook Groups Vanish As Brian Cuban's Twitter-Powered Revolution Picks Up Steam
As we mentioned Friday morning, Brian Cuban's created quite a stir in the last week with his push -- meticulously documented, naturally, at The Cuban Revolution -- to have Facebook to delete its user-created groups supporting Holocaust denial.
A day after the Dallas attorney -- and, yes, brother of Mavericks owner Mark Cuban -- made his case in an open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, a couple of the groups Cuban wrote about appear to have gone missing.
Cuban told Unfair Park that the momentum his cause has picked up among bloggers and on Twitter is the best tool he has for getting the company's attention. "Facebook has a worldwide presence, but they're a small company," Cuban says. "I think if a million people griped, they'd take it down."
Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt told CNN on Friday that the company doesn't support "Holocaust is a Holohoax" or any similar groups, but "Just being offensive or objectionable doesn't get it taken off Facebook. We want it [the site] to be a place where people can discuss all kinds of ideas, including controversial ones."
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Cuban, though, questions the benefits of open discussion in this case. "The vast majority of people who support it also support violence against Jews," he says. "Do we need awareness of the issue? Sure. But what does it mean to encourage discussing it openly?"
Cuban says he's waged a low-key battle with the social network over the last year or so, sending emails and getting form letters back -- but when President Obama mentioned "those who insist the Holocaust never happened" in a speech two weeks ago, Cuban says he knew the timing was right to get his cause a little more traction.
He decided to update and rewrite an old blog post, and link to it in his Twitter feed, he says, "and that's when all hell broke loose."
CNET blogger Chris Matyszczyk re-tweeted the post and wrote about it, sparking a flurry of comments and re-tweets over the last two weeks.
"The power of Twitter was great on this," Cuban says.
On blogs and comment threads,the most common argument for leaving the groups in place is free speech -- but Cuban points out that free speech rights don't even apply on a privately-owned platform like Facebook, so what speech is allowed is ultimately the company's judgment call.
Without inciting violence or generating hate speech, the groups aren't violating Facebook's Terms of Service (like a British KKK group removed earlier this month) or doing anything illegal in the U.S. "It's not a legal argument, it's a moral argument," Cuban says. "Facebook has come out and said it's a subjective argument, so my point is, why do you have to set the line here?"
"I'm from Russian Jewish descent, and there's some Holocaust involvement in my mother's side," Cuban told us. "So it's a personal issue for me."