Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has announced his intention to introduce legislation that would regulate the removal and blocking of social media posts which incite terrorism. This plan was announced just one day after Erdan had accused Facebook of sabotaging Israeli security efforts. In his criticism of Facebook, Erdan stated, “The young generation in the Palestinian Authority is gleaning from their incitement and lies — and going out to commit murder. This is happening on Mark Zuckerberg’s platform. Unfortunately, I have to say that some of the blood of those who were murdered is on his hands.“
Erdan has multiple concerns about how Facebook handles extremist posts. He accuses the platform of “setting a very high bar for removing content and posts that contain incitement.” Erdan stated that out of 74 “especially inciting and extremist posts” that Israeli officials had brought to Facebook’s attention, only 24 were removed. Another issue raised by Erdan is the fact that Facebook does not recognize Israel’s jurisdiction over the West Bank. “The big problem is in Judea and Samaria,” he said, “because Facebook does not recognize Israeli control there and is not prepared to turn over information.”
Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has raised concerns which are targeted not just at Facebook, but at social media companies in general. She is concerned that the Israeli government must seek out and flag extremist posts in order to get them removed. She wants social media companies to take a more active role in taking down posts promoting terrorism. “We want the companies not to approve, and actively remove, posts by terrorist groups and incitement to terrorism without us having to flag each individual post, in just the same manner that today, for example, they do not allow posts and pages containing child pornography,” she said.
In order to address these concerns, Erdan and Shaked are planning to introduce a bill that would regulate social media platforms. It would legislate the removal of extremists posts, and also allow for the blocking of sites which do not remove extremist content.
In a statement, Facebook explained it works closely with Israel to remove extremist content. It said, “We work regularly with safety organizations and policymakers around the world, including Israel, to ensure that people know how to make safe use of Facebook. There is no room for content that promotes violence, direct threats, terrorist or hate speeches on our platform.” The statement also called upon authorities and regular users to flag extremist content. “We have a set of community standards designed to help people understand what’s allowed on Facebook, and we call on people to use our report if they find content they believe violates these rules, so that we can examine each case and take quick action,” it stated.
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