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October 23, 2015
The newest tools in the deadly arsenal of terrorism are social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Traditionally, terrorism recruiting and propaganda were dependent on the discretion and publication by print journalists and news sources in far away places. But with the internet and social media, terrorist propaganda reaches millions and millions of people instantly, allowing terrorists to grow their ranks and encourage deadly attacks merely by hitting the “post” button.
One group is fighting back against a company it claims allows terrorists to use their outlets to spread hate and encourage violence against Israelis. Reports Algemeiner: “10,000 Israelis had signed a petition, launched by Shurat HaDin-The Israel Law Center, indicating their desire to join a class-action suit against Facebook for acting as an accomplice to terror.”
Shurat HaDin, an NGO whose mission is combating terrorism through “lawfare,” took up the case, following multiple complaints lodged by concerned users about the proliferation of pages in Arabic that call for the killing of Jews. Since Facebook’s response has been blasé at best, with claims that content is monitored for adherence to certain “community standards,” and utterly ineffectual, since pages such as “Stab Israelis” have not been removed, Israel Law Center founder Nitsana Darshan-Leitner decided to take the social media giant to court.
stab israeli facebook
The fight against terrorism has gone beyond tracking down the money of and financial support for terrorist groups.
“Something else is causing these young people to get up, grab knives and actually stab Israelis. And that ‘something’ is incitement. This is nothing new in the Palestinian Authority or in Gaza,” Darshan-Leitner said. “But, typically, it has been disseminated through sermons in mosques, teachings in schools, speeches in public squares and on TV. Today, it is being spread like wildfire through social media networks.”
And while antisemitism is not new, “what we are seeing today is a phenomenon with a different feel to it – with kids not only sharing their intention to become martyrs for Allah, and encouraging one another to do the same, but immediately acting on it.”
Darshan-Leitner says Facebook doesn’t remove the offending posts even when they are notified by users. “All you have to do is open Facebook right now. And you will be able to see that nothing whatsoever has been done.”
Shurat HaDin is trying another approach by turning to the American court system to address the problem. “We thought that fighting it requires minimizing the incitement. And this is why we are trying to get an injunction against Facebook to shut down those kind of pages and monitor the site to prevent other ones from appearing.” said Darshan-Leitner.
How can Facebook stop the appearance of posts that encourage hateful and deadly acts against Israelis and Jews?
“It is ridiculous to say that Facebook cannot monitor these things. Notice its millions of algorithms that know exactly what you like to wear and eat, who your friends are, what music you’re interested in, etc. How else do ads aimed specifically at you mysteriously appear in your feed and on the side of the page? If it’s got algorithms for consumer purposes, it can have algorithms for other purposes, as well.”
The class action lawsuit will be filed Monday in San Francisco.
Will Twitter be next?