Israeli Minister Slams Facebook: 'Terror Victims' Blood Is on Zuckerberg's Hands'

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan says that the social network fails to block posts inciting violence and also sabotages the work of Israeli police.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Mark Zuckerberg.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Mark Zuckerberg. Eliyahu Hershkovitz and George Frey, Bloomberg

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has accused Facebook and its chairman and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg of partial responsibility for terrorist attacks, including the murder of a 13-year old girl  while she slept last Thursday. 

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." 

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."

Last week, Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said they would advance legislation to remove offensive content from the social networks. The ministers said the law would require blocking terror-related and other banned posts that immediately endanger the state, public or a person. 

Erdan and Shaked met senior executives at Facebook last week and discussed issues that are troubling the Israeli law enforcement, especially the use of the social network for terror plots. The ministers said that during the recent terror wave, a direct link has been established between online incitement and attacks dubbed "lone-wolf terrorism."

MK Erel Margalit (Zionist Union), who took part in the Cyber Security conference in Paris on Friday, said that "Facebook has become a hothouse for new terrorism."

"The next terror attack is hiding among the thousands of likes and shares that terrorists get these days," he said.

Margalit said in his speech at the conference that "what happened in the last two days in Israel proves that cyber terror isn't only hackers and malware activated in the name of states like Iran. Cyber terror takes place on Facebook and social networks as well. The combination of incitement, technology and terror influences all Western states. It's time to change the politically correct approach vis-à-vis the terror hothouses fostered by social networks."

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."