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History Under Attack: Holocaust Denial and Distortion on Social Media
Place of publication | Year of publication | Collation: 
Paris; New York | 2022 | 68 p.
ISBN 978-92-3-100531-2
Corporate author: 
© UNESCO and UN 2022

Holocaust denial and distortion are dangerous. It is an attack on truth and knowledge. It feeds on and spreads antisemitic tropes and prejudices, and threatens our understanding of one of the most tragic and violent histories: The genocide of six million Jews by Nazi Germany, its allies and collaborators. In countries across Europe, people became complicit in the persecution and murder of their neighbours. Holocaust denial and distortion can prevent society from reckoning with this past. It impedes our comprehension of the causes and warning signs of genocide, and that might strengthen efforts for genocide prevention. It is insulting to the victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and risks the rehabilitation of violent, antisemitic ideologies. At its most extreme, it celebrates and glorifies this history, inciting violence against Jews and calling for another genocide.


The United Nations and UNESCO condemn the rise of Holocaust denial and distortion online as a dangerous form of hatred, and commissioned this report in partnership with the World Jewish Congress to raise awareness of the forms and functions of Holocaust denial and distortion on social media, and determine a series of policy and educational responses.


This report is a data-driven investigation into the extent and nature of Holocaust denial and distortion on online platforms. It is based on a manual review of almost 4,000 pieces of content collected in June and July 2021 that related to Jews, the Holocaust, antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion from five major online platforms and messenger apps. It looks at content posted on Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, TikTok and Twitter: some of the world’s largest online platforms and collectively home to billions of users. It addresses content in four different languages: English, French, Spanish and German, with the aim of providing a wide-ranging review that addresses multiple countries and contexts.


This report aims to answer four questions:

  1. How much Holocaust-related content on social media either denies the Holocaust or distorts key elements of history?
  2. What are the key narratives in contemporary Holocaust denial and distortion?
  3. How are Holocaust denial and distortion communicated, and how are they situated within wider discourses and frames?
  4. What can online platform companies, policy-makers, educators and organizations promoting Holocaust remembrance, education and research do to tackle the problem? Based on the findings of this report, it provides a series of recommended actions that online platforms, policy-makers, civil society, researchers and educators can implement to prevent and counter Holocaust denial and distortion online.


Resource Type: 
Research papers / journal articles
Media & information literacy / digital citizenship
Human rights
Preventing violent extremism / genocide
Level of education: