Israel's New 'Facebook Bill' Hopes to Force Social Media Giant to Delete Posts

According to new bill, court will be able to order the platform to remove content that deals with terror or poses real danger to the security of the state.

A Facebook employee walks past a sign at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park, California, U.S., March 15, 2013.
AP /Jeff Chiu

A draft of the “Facebook law,” which will enable the state to remove inciting materials from social networks, will be completed within a few days, the Justice Ministry estimates. A memorandum of a bill on the issue will be published and made available for review in the coming days in order to advance its legislation as soon as possible.

The Justice Ministry published a formulation of the law about two weeks ago following a meeting held by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Information, Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan with officials from Facebook.

According to the developing formulation, a court will be able to order the platform to remove any content immediately, if it is a post that deals with terror or poses real danger to the security of the state, the public or an individual.

“In light of the potential harm to freedom of expression, orders to remove content will be given sparingly, in extreme cases and directed only at harmful content,” according to the statement released at that time. In parallel, the ministry also mentioned another proposed law – which has already been approved on first reading – calling for restricting specific usage in order to prevent commission of crimes, and ordering Internet providers to restrict access to Internet addresses where the content is drug sales, gambling and pedophilic materials.

The two ministers have instructed the state attorney’s office and the Israel Police’s cyber departments to coordinate the removal of harmful contents that encourage acts of terror, shaming, insulting public servants and defamation. Thus, in a case of publication of prohibited contents, the Justice Ministry will contact the various social networks and websites, such as Facebook and Google, inform them and warn them that the contents violate penal law in Israel and constitute a violation of their conditions of use.