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Facebook Denies Holocaust Deniers

Amid mounting pressure, Facebook does an about face and shutters controversial Holocaust sites.

The about-face, reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, comes after Facebook's controversial decision last week to keep the pages intact despite howls of worldwide protest. The pages are called "Holocaust is a Holohoax" and "Based on Fact ... There Was No Holocaust."

The JTA alleges that other Holocaust denail groups remain on Facebook.

"We are monitoring these groups and if the discussion among members degrades to the point of promoting hate or violence, despite whatever disclaimer the group description provides, we will take them down," Barry Schnitt, a Facebook spokesperson, told JTA.

"It's a difficult decision to make," said Schnitt. "We have a lot of internal debate, and we bring in experts to talk about it. Just being offensive or objectionable doesn't get it taken off Facebook. We want it to be a place where people can discuss all kinds of ideas, including controversial ones."

The social networking site finally capitulated under mounting pressure and bad publicity generated from complaints by Jewish groups and lawyer Brian Cuban, the brother of Dallas Mavericks owner and Internet entrepreneur Mark Cuban. The attorney has led a year-long campaign to dismantle the sites, and disputes charges he is calling for censorship.

"There is no First Amendment right to free speech in the private realm," Cuban told CNN. "This isn't a freedom-of-speech issue. Facebook is free to set the standard that they wish."

Over the weekend, Cuban posted an "open letter" on his blog "Cuban Revolution" to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Cuban appealed to Zuckerberg to shutter the sites, in spite of some cries of censorship. Ironically, Zuckerberg is also Jewish.

"The Holocaust Denial movement is nothing more than a pretext to allow the preaching of hatred against Jews and to recruit other like-minded individuals to do the same," wrote Cuban. "Allowing these groups to flourish on Facebook under the guise of "open discussion" does nothing more than help spread their message of hate. Is this the kind of open discussion that Facebook wants to encourage? Is this really where you want to draw your line?"

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