Social media companies ignoring Israel's warnings 'unacceptable'

Arutz Sheva speaks to Wiesenthal Center Director Abraham Cooper who is monitoring improvements and failures in combating anti-Semitism.

Yoni Kempinski ,

צילום: Yoni Kempinski

Arutz Sheva spoke to Wiesenthal Center Director of Global Social Action Agenda Rabbi Abraham Cooper at the 6th Global Forum on Combatting Anti-Semitism in Jerusalem. Cooper unveiled the 2018 "report card" produced by their center that "gives grades" to various social media companies according their level of conformity to the Center's social action agenda.

Regarding Facebook, Cooper quoted the Israeli Justice Minister who called it the "gold standard. They put money and teams of young people on the issue of digital terrorism and hate every day on three continents... They get the problem, we meet with them a few times a year and they call on us for advice. But as you know, like any company for profit they're far from perfect - but if everyone would follow their model, we'd have a lot less problems."

Arutz Sheva asked Cooper about their criteria for ranking social media companies. "Well it's real simple. These are companies, they set their own rules. We want those rules to be transparent, and we want them to put some human recourses behind it so when someone who uses the platform has a problem, they can send an email and actually get an answer. The Wiesenthal Center they're going to respond to because they know they can get in trouble otherwise."

"Since I'm based in the US, we sort of approach the issue on the basis that speech itself is not actionable in a court of law. That's not true in other democracies," Cooper notes with a gleam in his eye, "but it is true in the US where most of these companies are headquartered. So we actually approach the issue that the major responsibility here is that of the company."

When asked about reports in the name of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that Israel itself has not been successful in drawing a response from social media platforms, Cooper answers "Well, I have a lot of respect for the Justice Minister; she takes on a lot of difficult issues, and yesterday was an important session with leaders throughout Europe joining her. When she mentioned that they submitted thousands of problematic accounts to Twitter, and not only were none removed but they didn't receive a response, frankly I was shocked."

"I think it's obviously unacceptable," he continued, "and that's not the way any of these companies operate with any other government in the world. They're very sensitive - they're for profit - and so they're very sensitive about their name. So when I get back to our headquarters at the Wiesenthal Center later this week, we'll be in touch with Twitter to find out what's going on. Understand that in the early years of our report card, Twitter consistently got F's; they did zero. But in recent years after they were exposed as being used by ISIS - sending out 200,000 tweets a day - there was such a backlash against that that they changed their policy, they've taken down a couple of hundred thousand terrorist accounts, and if that's the case, they should be a lot more responsive to Israel's concerns. That doesn't mean they're going to have the same definitions of what should come down, but the notion that there's no communication at all, there's no response, that's unacceptable."