Following widespread criticism, a Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada against Israel was removed on March 29. On the Facebook page, Palestinians were urged to launch street protests following Friday May 15 and begin an uprising as modelled by similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan. Killing Jews en masse was emphasized.
According to the Facebook page, “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews.” The page had more than 340,000 fans. However, even while the page was removed, a new page now exists in its place with the same name, “Third Palestinian Intifada.”
“As recently demonstrated, social networks can be used to overthrow governments, for good or bad, and even destabilize entire regions. Prominent social networks like Facebook can no longer afford to remain neutral as it relates to Israel’s right to exist. Therefore I appreciate their stand against violent and growing anti-Semitism,” Dave McQuade, founder of MediaReallyMatters.com, said.
Abraham Foxman, National Director for the Anti-Defamation League, said in a statement, “Facebook’s decision to remove the cause page calling for a “Third Palestinian Intifada” is a welcome development. We applaud Facebook’s willingness to continue to engage and consider this important question and we deeply appreciate their responsiveness.
By taking this action, Facebook has now recognized an important standard to be applied when evaluating issues of non-compliance with its terms of service involving distinctions between incitement to violence and legitimate calls for collective expressions of opinion and action. As it continues to monitor its pages, Facebook should be able to apply this standard in response to complaints about other pages with similar content. We hope that they will continue to vigilantly monitor their pages for other groups that call for violence or terrorism against Jews and Israel.”
Foxman had earlier filed an official complaint against Facebook for allowing the page to remain up. Foxman said last week, “We should not be so naÃ¯ve to believe that a campaign for a ‘Third Intifada’ does not portend renewed violence, especially in the current climate that has seen a dramatic increase in rocket attacks from Gaza, the brutal murder of the Fogel family in the West Bank, and a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem.” Foxman had called upon Facebook to drop the controversial page on March 25, but got no response. In a statement, the ADL declared then “We are disappointed that Facebook has rejected our request to remove this site, which is in clear violation of their terms of service.”
In addition, Israeli Minister of Information and Diaspora Yuli-Yoel Edelstein wrote a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, warning that the page includes calls to kill Jews and to liberate Jerusalem through violence. According to Edelstein’s letter, the Facebook page in question violates Facebook content regulations. Facebook has not released an official response to the Israeli government’s request or the ADL statement.
However, a Facebook spokesperson did respond last week to criticism. According to Bloomberg News Service, Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost said in an emailed response, “While some kinds of comments and content may be upsetting for someone – criticism of a certain culture, country, religion, lifestyle, or political ideology, for example — that alone is not a reason to remove the discussion.” Reportedly, Frost added, “We strongly believe that Facebook users have the ability to express their opinions, and we don’t typically take down content, groups or Pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas.” Much attention was focused on Facebook in the run-up to dictator Hosni Mubarak’s fall from grace in Egypt, as Net-savvy young activists spread the word on the website announcing protests and posting news, photos, and video. A declaration on the Facebook page calling for mass murder on May 15 stated that if Facebook dared block the page, “all Muslims will boycott Facebook forever.”
A Washington, DC, based constitutional advocacy group the American Center for Law and Justice, issued a statement syaing, “We applaud Facebook’s decision to remove the ‘Third Intifada’ group.” Jordan Sekulow, Director of International Operations for the ACLJ, continued, “While the access to freedom of speech, association, and political organization that Facebook provides to many who live under oppressive regimes has already proven to be world-changing, there is no need to accommodate those who actively seek to organize terrorist acts.”
In acknowledging the power of the Internet today, Sekulow said, “We know that terrorists have recognized the power of Facebook, and now we know that Facebook will work aggressively to prevent its platform from being used for these purposes while simultaneous protecting the rights so fundamental to mankind.”
Cutting Edge Correspondent Martin Barillas also edits Speroforum.com.