Israel Election 2020: Facebook Deletes Netanyahu Video After He Violates Election Law Again

The social media platform also removed fake accounts designed to suppress Arab voting

Oded Yaron
Oded Yaron
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Har Homa neighborhood in Jerusalem, February 2020
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Har Homa neighborhood in Jerusalem, February 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Oded Yaron
Oded Yaron

Facebook removed fake accounts aiming to suppress voting in the election, in addition to a video by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu which illegally cited new polling numbers.

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Bibi went gunning for his only real rivalCredit: Haaretz Weekly Ep. 66

The seven accounts join over a hundred Facebook removed recently. According to an investigation by The Democratic Bloc, an organization monitoring anti-democratic trends in Israel, the suspected profiles made comments to undermine Arab lawmakers and their parliamentary work, express despair in the political system and spread rumors about politicians' personal lives. 

"Attempts are being made across the web to suppress the participation of Arab citizens of Israel," said Morshed Bebar, who led the Democratic Bloc investigation.

Bebar said that publication patterns by these fake accounts indicate an organized and systematic operation." 

"It is still unclear who is behind them, but it is clear that this is part of a global trend of anonymous attempts to suppress voting among certain communities and thus disrupt the democratic process and delegitimize entire populations," he said.

Comments by the fake profiles attacked the Arab political alliance Joint List and its representatives. Messages also aimed at reducing the public's confidence in the political system. "You call yourselves the Joint List but you only work for your interests, you're all liars," wrote one of the accounts determined by Facebook to be fake.

Other comments spread rumors of a personal nature against Arab lawmakers. "To support the Joint List you must be a lesbian and support LGBT people, like Aida Touma," wrote one comment, referring to no. 5 on the Joint List ticket Aida Touma-Sliman.

On Sunday, a video by Netanyahu in which he cited new polls was removed for violating an Israeli law which forbids publishing fresh surveys three days prior to the election.

Speaking at a Likud party gathering at Airport City, Netanyahu spoke of statistics from three hours earlier. Facebook said that they had received a complaint asking that they remove campaign material that violated the local law, and therefore removed it.

In the September election, Facebook temporarily suspended the official Netanyahu page's chatbot for similar reasons. About a week before the September’s election, Facebook suspension the bot for sending automatic messages to Likud activists, calimimg that “The Arabs want to destroy us all – women, children and men.”

Last month, it was reported that Netanyahu called Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to complain that the social media platform has worked against his Likud party in the recent elections.

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