Facebook has responded to an Israeli minister’s scathing criticism that the social media network is not doing enough to remove abusive content from its site that could incite Palestinian violence against the country. Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan slammed the social media giant on Saturday (2 July), saying it has become a “monster” due to “the dialogue, the incitement, the lies of the young Palestinian generation [that] are happening on the Facebook platform”.
Erdan said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has blood on his hands after a 13-year-old girl was recently stabbed to death in her bed in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Ara. The killer, identified as 17-year-old Muhammad Nasser Tarayrah, previously announced his intentions in a series of posts on Facebook before the murder, saying he wanted to have a “martyr’s death”.
“Facebook today, which brought an amazing, positive revolution to the world, sadly, we see this since the rise of Daesh and the wave of terror, it has simply become a monster,” Erdan told Israeli television station Channel 2in Hebrew, Reuters reports. “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.”
Erdan added that the site “sets a very high bar for removing inciteful content and posts”. The Israeli government has reported an increase in “lone wolf” attacks by young Palestinians since last fall, spurred by hate posts on social media that encourage violence and glorify vicious attacks.
To pressure Facebook into changing its content standards, Erdan has called on Israelis to “flood him in every possible place with the demand to monitor the platform he established and from which he earns millions”.
Facebook released a statement saying the company does “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. “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.”
Erdan noted that that of the 74 “especially inciting and extremist posts” Israel had notified Facebook about, only 24 were taken down. He said jurisdiction is an issue in such cases.
“The big problem is in Judea and Samaria [West Bank], because Facebook does not recognize Israeli control there and is not prepared to turn over information,” Erdan said.
The Israeli MP’s harsh criticism comes just a month after tech giants Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and YouTube pledged to tackle online hate speech in Europe by signing a new code of conductcreated by the European Union designed to examine and remove illegal hate speech within 24 hours and disable access if necessary.