Facebook pulls anti-Israel page - after being exposed by NGO

Facebook changes its tune about anti-Israel page launched by Shurat Hadin, said it "made a mistake" by not taking it down.
By Ben Ariel
First Publish: 1/10/2016, 6:04 AM

Facebook (illustration)
Facebook (illustration)
Thinkstock

Facebook has agreed to pull a page that incited against Israelis, but only after the Shurat Hadin-Israel Law Center NGO exposed its double standard in removing inciting pages.

As part of its investigation, Shurat Hadin launched two different pages, one entitled “Stop Palestinians” and one entitled “Stop Israelis”. It then proceeded to post almost identical content on both pages, with one inciting against Israelis and the other inciting against Palestinians.

But when members of the NGO complained to Facebook management about the contents of the pages, Facebook only took down the page that incited against Palestinians, while claiming that the page inciting against Israelis did not violate the social network’s “community standards”.

Shurat Hadin has indicated it plans to use the results of this investigation in its recently filed lawsuit against Facebook in a New York court, in which the organization alleges the social network allowed jihadists to openly recruit and train terrorists and plan terror attacks on its pages.

Since the investigation was made public, however, Facebook seems to have changed its tune, according to The Observer.

In an e-mail sent this past Wednesday and obtained exclusively by the website, Facebook rescinded its initial decision that the anti-Israel page met “community standards” and claimed it had “made a mistake” in its earlier decision.

“As you may have noticed, we have now taken down both those pages as we made a mistake earlier,” a Facebook spokesperson explained in the e-mail quoted by The Observer.

Facebook also insisted it “does not tolerate hate speech, including against people on the basis of their nationality. We review all reports and take down such content. Both these pages have now been removed from Facebook.”

Shurat Hadin, however, did not buy the statement.

“Unfortunately we do not believe it was a simple ‘mistake’ as Israelis and Jews worldwide have been relentlessly protesting that Facebook is completely unresponsive to this type of Palestinian incitement to violence,” Shurat Hadin founder, attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, told The Observer.

“Two months ago we filed a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court on behalf of over 20,000 Israeli citizens, seeking an injunction against Facebook for “intentionally disregarding the widespread incitement and calls for murder of Jews being posted on its web pages by Palestinians. This simple experiment and its results speak for themselves,” she continued.

“Every Israeli that walks the street, rides the buses and sits in a public cafe is feeling the consequences of the Palestinian incitement to violence on social media.  We have displayed what thousands of Jewish activists and the Israeli security services have known since September—that the online incitement is driving the stabbing and vehicle attacks, and Facebook’s bias and refusal to act in real time is spurring on the terrorism,” she told The Observer.

 “A publicly traded company like Facebook that utilizes the Internet to make its billions in profits,” said Darshan-Leitner, “cannot simply turn a blind eye to the role it plays in aiding and abetting terrorists to carrying out their attacks.”