On Saturday, Reuters reported that Gilad Erdan, Israel’s Minister of Internal Security, referred to Facebook as a “monster,” accusing it and CEO Mark Zuckerberg of not doing enough to prevent incitement to terrorism. Worse yet, he said the social media giant, now known as the “world’s most dangerous censor,” of sabotaging police efforts to deal with terrorism.
According to Reuters:
Israel has in the past said Facebook is used to encourage attacks and the government is drafting legislation to enable it to order Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media to remove online postings it deems incite terrorism. [L8N19C1NE]
But the comments made by Gilad Erdan, a cabinet minister in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition that oversees law enforcement, were particularly biting.
He said Zuckerberg was responsible for Facebook policy and called on “the citizens of Israel to flood him in every possible place with the demand to monitor the platform he established and from which he earns billions”.
A spokesman for Facebook in Israel said the company was not commenting on the minister’s assertions.
“Facebook today, which brought an amazing, positive revolution to the world, sadly, we see this since the rise of Daesh (Islamic State) and the wave of terror, it has simply become a monster,” Erdan told Channel 2.
“Facebook today sabotages, it should be known, sabotages the work of the Israeli police, because when the Israeli police approach them, and it is regarding a resident of Judea and Samaria, Facebook does not cooperate,” he added. “It also sets a very high bar for removing inciteful content and posts.”
Palestinian leaders, however, blame the collapse of peace talks in 2014 and Israeli settlement expansion.
Facebook later responded to the charges.
“We work regularly with safety organisations 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 company said in a statement.
“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,” Facebook added.
But, Erdan said, Of the 74 “especially inciting and extremist posts” Israel brought to Facebook’s attention, only 24 were removed. This, as Adina Kutnicki and I point out in our upcoming book, “BANNED: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad,” is a common complaint.
Time and again, users have reported threatening posts, only to be told they do not violate Facebooks “community standards.”
“The big problem is in Judea and Samaria, because Facebook does not recognize Israeli control there and is not prepared to turn over information,” Erdan explained.
“We want the companies not to approve and to themselves remove posts by terrorist groups and incitement to terrorism without us having to flag each individual post, in just the same manner, for example, that they today do not allow posts and pages with child pornography,” Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Israel’s Army Radio.
According to Reuters, Facebook and other companies have started using automation to remove ISIS videos and other extremist content. But the automation is apparently not sufficient to catch all the posts.
Erdan has also asked Israelis to “flood” Zuckerberg with demands for a policy change.
Only time will tell if any positive changes will be made.
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