Nearly Half of Holocaust-Related Public Content on Telegram Denies or Distorts the Nazi Genocide of the Jews, New Study Finds

July 14, 2022

Nearly half — 49% — of Holocaust-related public content on the Telegram instant messaging service denies or distorts the facts about the Nazi genocide of six million Jews, a new Oxford Internet Institute study — commissioned by UNESCO and the United Nations, in partnership with the World Jewish Congress — found.

“This rate rises to over 80% for messages in German, and around 50% in English and French,” the report noted. “These posts, easily accessible to people looking for Holocaust-related information on the platform, are often explicitly antisemitic.”

“On moderated platforms, denial and distortion are also present, but to a lesser extent,” it added. “They concern 19% of Holocaust-related content on Twitter, 17% on TikTok, 8% on Facebook and 3% on Instagram. But the falsification of the facts about the Holocaust then takes on new forms — perpetrators learn to evade content moderation, by using humorous and parodic memes as a strategy intended to normalize antisemitic ideas, for example, making these ideas appear mainstream.”

The report went on to offer five recommendations to address the issue:

– Online platforms should monitor and, if necessary, take action on content that denies or distorts the Holocaust, in partnership with experts, civil society organizations and international organizations.

– Platforms should redirect and give visibility to verified information about the history of the Holocaust, as Facebook and TikTok do in their partnership with UNESCO and the WJC, with the website aboutholocaust.org.

– Platforms should work actively with teachers and education systems to develop teaching and learning resources, and support digital citizenship education in schools, universities and non-formal education. In recent years, UNESCO has produced technical guidance for this purpose, including on the topics of “how to address antisemitism through education” and “education about the Holocaust and genocide.”

– Governments should invest in developing media and information literacy and critical thinking to empower learners to interpret and assess (mis)information, as suggested by the UNESCO report on Futures of Education published in November 2021.

– The fight against online distortion and denial of the Holocaust should be systematically and comprehensively integrated into national action plans against antisemitism and hate speech.

The report can be read in full here.