×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Facebook Execs Defend Company’s Standards in Response to Infowars, Holocaust-Denial Questions

The heads of Facebook’s entertainment-programming initiative defended the company’s standards for video and other content Wednesday at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour.

VP of product Fidji Simo and head of global creative strategy Ricky Van Veen were on hand to discuss the original entertainment programming being developed for Facebook Watch. But a majority of questions they fielded had to do instead with the distribution of objectionable material through the video platform. Simo took the first such question, which made reference to content from Holocaust deniers being available on Facebook.

“Just to be very clear, we find Holocaust denial absolutely abhorrent,” Simo said. “We have community guidelines and community standards to guide a lot of these decisions, and sometimes our difficult decisions are not totally black and white.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was criticized last week by Jewish organizations and anti-racism groups for saying that Holocaust denial should be allowed on Facebook because it could be unintentional.

The execs were also asked about the availability on Facebook Watch of video from Infowars — the hard-right website that proliferates conspiracy theories, including the false claim that the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax. On Wednesday, a group of parents of children killed in that massacre sent a letter to Zuckerberg condemning him for providing a platform to fringe groups spreading lies about the shooting.

“I find Infowars absolutely atrocious,” Simo said. “That being said, we have the hard job of trying to find a sense of balance between freedom of expression and safety.” She added, “There is a pretty big difference between what is allowed on Facebook and what gets distribution. So what we’re really trying to do is make it so that if you are saying something untrue on Facebook, you’re allowed to say it as long as you’re an authentic person and you are meeting the community standards. But we are trying to make it so it doesn’t get so much distribution.”

Van Veen expressed frustration when asked about Facebook Watch’s Fox News program, attempting to dismiss the question without answering. “Given the limited time,” Van Veen said, pointing out that exec Campbell Brown heads news for Facebook, “I’d love to talk about originals and Watch.”

When another reporter shouted “answer the question,” Simo responded, “We try to have a range of news shows that represent the entire political [spectrum].”

More TV

  • MMA Alters Faces of Asia Sports

    MMA Alters Faces of Asian Sports Broadcasting

    Bruce Lee was ahead of the curve by about four decades when he predicted back in the early 1970s that combat sports would one day take the world by storm. Hong Kong’s favorite son had encouraged his own students to mix up the styles of martial arts they were being trained in — to combine kung fu [...]

  • Variety Kit Harington Game of Thrones

    Kit Harington on How 'Game of Thrones' Mirrors Real-World Politics

    In Variety‘s March 19 cover story, Kit Harington opens up about the final season of “Game of Thrones” and growing into adulthood as part of the biggest show on television. In a conversation in London in December, Harington opened up about the similarities between the series’ politics and our own. “I think it’s always been about [...]

  • Chris O'Dowd

    TV News Roundup: Chris O'Dowd to Star in 'Twilight Zone' Episode

    In today’s roundup, The CW has released two clips from the upcoming “Riverdale” special “Heathers: The Musical,” and Chris O’Dowd will star in an episode of “The Twilight Zone.”  CASTING Chris O’Dowd will star in CBS All Access’ rebooted “The Twilight Zone” episode titled “The Blue Scorpion.” The series will premiere with two episodes on [...]

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara's Ouster Kicks Off a Week of Major Disruption in the Media Business

    The sudden ouster of Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara kicked off what is likely to go down as one of the most extraordinary weeks in Hollywood history, spelling enormous turmoil and transition across the media landscape. In addition to the news about Tsujihara, which comes amid a wider shake-up of leadership at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, [...]

  • Wendy Williams Sober Living House

    Wendy Williams Reveals She's Been Staying in a Sober-Living House

    Wendy Williams, during an emotional monologue on her talk show on Tuesday, revealed through tears that she has been staying at a sober-living house. “So you know me for being a very open and truthful person,” she began the segment on “The Wendy Williams Show,” fighting through tears. “And I’ve got more to the story [...]

  • Hong Kong Industry Executives Seek Clarity

    FilMart: Hong Kong Industry Executives Plead for Clarity on Mainland Chinese Tax Policies

    At a time of heightened scrutiny of tax affairs in China’s entertainment sector, even industry veterans in Hong Kong are struggling to figure out how to operate in the new financial environment and pleading for more clarity from the Chinese government. Hong Kong produces about 60 films a year, three-quarters of which are typically co-productions [...]

  • Michael Jackson R Kelly

    'Leaving Neverland,' 'Surviving R. Kelly' Composers on How They Scored Sexual Abuse Docs

    How do you put music to child sexual abuse — especially if the accused predators are musical icons? That’s the challenge composers Chad Hobson and Nathan Matthew David faced as they scored HBO’s “Leaving Neverland” and Lifetime’s “Surviving R. Kelly,” respectively. The documentaries are built around interviews with the alleged victims of Michael Jackson (two [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content