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Sunday, July 03, 2016

Is Facebook responsible for 'Palestinian' terrorism?

These sorts of accusations are not new, but Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has accused Facebook of partial responsibility for Thursday's murder of 13-year old Hallel Yaffa Ariel.
Erdan said on Saturday that the social network fails to block posts inciting violence and also sabotages the work of Israeli police.

"Some of the victims' blood is on Zuckerberg's hands," he told Channel 2. "Facebook has turned into a monster. The younger generation in the Palestinian Authority runs its entire discourse of incitement and lies and finally goes out to commit murderous acts on Facebook's platform."

Erdan's comments touched on Facebook posts by the terrorist who murdered an Israeli girl, Hallel Yaffa Ariel, in Kiryat Arba last week. Mohammed Nasser Tra'ayra, 19, from the Palestinian village of Bani Na'im, had been praising terrorists and voiced his wish to die a "martyr's death" on Facebook in the days before the attack.

Erdan said Facebook "could have reported to the police or defense officials about the post put up by that despicable murderer." 
Well yeah, if they saw it, but I have my doubts that Facebook reviews every post that goes onto its site within a few days after posting, particularly if no one calls it to their attention. The IDF, which monitors Facebook itself, is far more likely to pick up a terror threat that quickly.

On the other hand, Erdan is right that Facebook does provide a platform for terrorists to plan and to incite others to join them.

Facebook's reaction to Erdan's accusations begs the question.
Facebook said in response that it works regularly with safety organizations and policy makers worldwide "to ensure people know how to use Facebook safely. There is no place for content encouraging violence, direct threats, terror or hatred on our platform. We have clear community rules intended to help people what is allowed on Facebook and we call on people to use our reporting devices if they find content they believe breaks these rules, so we can examine each case and take rapid action. Facebook has a regular dialog with the government on these issues."
Look at the picture atop this post and tell me whether you still believe Facebook has any credibility on this issue. In fact, Erdan's more general accusations against Facebook carry a lot more weight than the specific accusations relating to this incident.
He said that when the police ask Facebook for help, "when it comes to a Judea and Samaria [West Bank] settlers, Facebook doesn't cooperate and sets a high bar for removing inciting content and posts."
The Knesset is considering legislation requiring Facebook to immediately block and remove inciting posts. It will be interesting to see whether the legislation passes and whether it brings any change to Facebook's operations here.

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