Addressing American Jewish leaders, Akiva Tor urged for an end to online incitement, saying social media forums should stop hiding behind the first amendment.
With rampant anti-Semitism and incitement to terror rampant on the Internet, a foreign ministry representative, speaking Monday at the annual Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations event in Jerusalem, stressed the need to regulate social media, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Akiva Tor, director of the Foreign Ministry’s Department for Jewish Communities, asked, “What is YouTube, what is Facebook, what is Twitter and what is Google? Are they a free speech corner like [London’s] Hyde Park or are they more similar to a radio station in the public domain?”
“How is it possible that the government of France and the European Union all feel that incitement in Arabic on social media in Europe calling for physical attacks on Jews is permitted and that there is no requirement from the industry to something about it,” he said, according to the Post.
“If they know how to deliver a specific ad to your Facebook page [then] they know how to detect speech in Arabic calling to stab someone in the neck. It is outrageous [that technology] companies hide behind the first amendment. Industry won’t correct itself without regulatory requirements by governments,” he declared.
“While everyone understands the need to keep the web free, Facebook’s decision to allow this flood of terrorist incitement and calls to murder Jews to continue has crossed all red lines,” Shurat Hadin Law Center, an Israel-based human rights group that spearheaded the initiative, stated. “Facebook is fanning the flames of the current Palestinian intifada, and its refusals to actively monitor and block the incitement to violence is an outrageous abandonment of its obligations to the public.”
Earlier that month, Israelis complained to Facebook about a page calling for the stabbing of Israelis, demanding that it be removed. Facebook declined to do so until it came under heavy public pressure, after which it obliged.
Also in the fall, a powerful article slamming Palestinian terrorists mysteriously disappeared from the many Facebook pages on which it had been posted.
Titled Things We Need to Stop Hearing About the ‘Stabbing Intifada’ and written by internationally renowned French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy, the article was published by The Algemeiner, posted on the news site’s Facebook page – where it was viewed by 40,000 readers – and shared by others.
The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), a media watchdog, originally informed the news site about the article’s disappearance. The posts with Levy’s article reappeared on Facebook a few days later, apparently due to queries made by the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
“The most dangerous nation in the Middle East acting against Israel is the state of Facebook. It has a lot more power than anybody who’s operating an armed force,” military intelligence expert Amos Yadlin stated earlier this month at a cybertech conference in Tel Aviv.