The Israeli government is poised to move forward with a program aimed at severely curtailing social media networks’ legal protection, according to a report by Channel 12 Sunday evening.
The plan is reportedly being drawn up by the Communications Ministry at the behest of Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel (New Hope), who is said to be pushing for steps to challenge the right of social media networks to avoid prosecution over the content published through their systems.
Currently, Facebook, Instagram, and other large social media networks are treated as communications service providers – like telephone networks – which are not held accountable for content, rather than as publishers, who because of their discretion of determining which content is published can be held liable in some legal cases.
Most countries currently extend some degree of legal protection from prosecution over content to social media networks.
Under Hendel’s plan, however, a committee will be established by the Communications Ministry to determine whether social media outlets should lose their protection as utility networks and instead be treated more like publishers.
In addition, the committee is expected to be empowered by Minister Hendel to determine whether social media outlets can be obliged to reveal details regarding their protocols regarding censorship and the closure of accounts for violating company policies.
While the committee’s purview will include social media outlets generally, according to Sunday’s report, the Communications Ministry’s focus is concentrated on Facebook.
The social media giant has come under greater scrutiny recently, following a whistleblower’s scathing critique of the company and growing calls by lawmakers in the European Union to regulate the platform.