A Day After New Government Announced, Instagram and Twitter Temporarily Ban Yair Netanyahu

The prime minister's son had posted Yamina MK Nir Orbach's home address, calling on people to demonstrate there to pressure the lawmaker to defect from the new government announced on Wednesday night

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Yair Netanyahu
Yair NetanyahuCredit: Moti Milrod

Facebook took down an Instagram post on Thursday by Yair Netanyahu, the son of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, containing personal details of a Yamina lawmaker, and blocked him from posting or commenting to other users for 24 hours. Twitter also temporarily blocked Netanyahu's account later on.

In his Instagram post, Netanyahu shared a poster encouraging people to demonstrate in front of Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach’s house on Thursday night to influence him not to join the government announced Wednesday night by Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and right-wing chairman Naftali Bennett. The post included Orbach’s home address.

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Netanyahu lamented the ban on Telegram and Twitter, where he wrote alongside an image of North Korean flags: “Facebook, the Bolsheviks, blocked me for 24 hours because of this picture! The big tech, the deep state, and the pseudo-legal system – together with their puppets in the new government – are leading Israel into a very dark period. Let’s hope it won’t end with gulags.”

Twitter removed the post and informed Netanyahu that it temporarily banned his account because he had posted private information about another person. "You may not post another person's personal information without their knowledge and consent," Twitter said.

Netanyahu did not share the reasons for the Instagram ban, and according to other users, the social media giant blocked the accounts of other Likud activists who shared the poster.

Facebook did not respond to a request for an explanation as to why it banned the accounts of Netanyahu and other activists.

For years, Netanyahu’s son has drawn media criticism for provocative social media posts and a life of excess at public expense.

Donald TrumpCredit: Mandel Ngan / AFP

In December 2018, Facebook blocked the youngest Netanyahu for 24 hours after he wrote a post criticizing the social media platform as “thought police” and sharing previously banned content.

Netanyahu had blasted the website for removing an earlier post in which he called for “avenging the deaths” of two Israeli soldiers killed the week before by Palestinian gunmen and calling for the expulsion of Palestinians. He shared a screenshot of the earlier post in violation of Facebook’s community rules. Facebook also deleted another post by Netanyahu around that time in which the premier’s son said he would “prefer” if “all the Muslims leave the land of Israel.”

Social media platforms have grappled in recent years with how to deal with fake news and incitement to violence, as well as how to police world leaders, politicians and public figures that violate their guidelines.

In January, Trump was permanently banned from Twitter Inc, where he has more than 88 million followers. Facebook also indefinitely blocked Donald Trump's access to his Facebook and Instagram accounts over concerns of further violent unrest following the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol by supporters of the former U.S. president.

Trump's suspension was the first time Facebook had blocked a current president, prime minister or head of state. Facebook came under fire both from those who think it should abandon its hands-off approach to political speech and those who saw the Trump ban as a worrying act of censorship.

In May, Facebook Inc's oversight board on Wednesday upheld the company's suspension of Trump in a much-anticipated verdict that could signal how the company will treat rule-breaking world leaders in the future.

Last month, during the latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas, Whatsapp, the popular messaging service owned by Facebook, blocked the accounts of at least 30 far-right Jewish extremists in Israel. It also blocked the accounts of journalists based in the Gaza Strip, allegedly due to their membership in WhatsApp groups operated by Hamas.

Among the accounts blocked were those belonging to activists from the far-right Kahanist Otzma Yehudit party, including the wife of its leader Itamar Ben-Gvir and the head of the group Lehava, Benzi Gopstein. The activists said they did not get prior notice before being blocked from their accounts and had not received any explanation.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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