Facebook Complying With 95% of Israeli Requests to Remove Inciting Content, Minister Says

YouTube, however, has been removing 80% of content cited by government, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked says.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Credit: Bloomberg

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said on Monday that Facebook and YouTube had been complying in recent months with up to 95% of Israel’s requests for taking down content that the government says incites Palestinian violence.

She said that Facebook, which has a delegation in Israel right now meeting with Shaked and other officials, had complied with 95% of the 158 requests made by Israel made from May to August this year. YouTube, which is a subsidiary of Google, had complied with 80% of 13 requests. She said the figure was up from 50% previously.

“That is an impressive statistic. Nevertheless, we understand that the amount of incitement on the internet is much higher and we must keep exerting the pressure, which we will do,” Shaked told the Annual International Conference on Counter-Terrorism at the Herzilya Interdisciplinary Center.

Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, both of whom have been at the forefront of a campaign to force social media companies to crack down on incitement, met with Facebook executives visiting Israel on Monday.

The meeting comes amid growing concerns in Israel about so-called lone-wolf terrorists who are unaffiliated with formal organizations but are encouraged to acts of violence over the social media.

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked delivers a speech during a conference in Budapest, Hungary, June 6, 2016.Credit: Tamas Kovacs, MTI via AP

Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday reported that Shaked and Erdan had proposed to the Facebook executives that the company treat words like “intifada,” “stabbing,” “Nazis” and expressions such as “death to Jews” and “death to Arabs” as grounds for removing content. They also called for the same policy toward videos inciting viewers to stabbing attacks or containing anti-Semitic caricatures.

Facebook didn’t respond to the requests, Yedioth said. Reuters reported that neither Facebook nor YouTube would comment on Shaked’s figures for compliance on removing inflammatory content.

Although the Facebook visit comes amid growing pressure from Israel to crack down on incitement, the company said the visit by executives – Joel Kaplan, vice president of global public policy and a former deputy chief of staff for policy at the White House, and Monika Bickert, head of product policy – was part of a dialog it is having with governments worldwide.

“Online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policymakers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world,” Facebook said in a statement Monday.

The company also said its community standards “make it clear there is no place for terrorists or content that promotes terrorism on Facebook.” It called the meeting “constructive,” but offered no details about its conclusions.

The Facebook team also met with opposition MK Revital Swid (Zionist Union), who has submitted legislation that would force social networks to self-monitor or face a fine. Swid said she didn’t hold social media platforms responsible for terror but that they had an obligation to do more to fight it.

With reporting from Reuters.



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