(photo credit: REUTERS)
Facebook is doing its share to remove abusive content from the social network, it said on Sunday in an apparent rejection of Israeli allegations that it was uncooperative in stemming messages that might spur Palestinian violence.
Beset by a 10-month-old surge in Palestinian street attacks, Israel says that Facebook has been used to perpetuate such bloodshed and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightist government is drafting legislation to enable it to order social media sites to remove postings deemed threatening.
Ramping up the pressure, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Saturday accused
Facebook of "sabotaging" Israeli police efforts by not cooperating with inquiries about potential suspects in the occupied West Bank and by "set(ting) a very high bar for removing inciteful content and posts."
Facebook did not respond directly to Erdan's criticism, but said in a statement that it conferred closely with Israel
"We work regularly with safety organizations and policymakers around the world, including Israel, to ensure that people know how to make safe use of Facebook. There is no room for content that promotes violence, direct threats, terrorist or hate speeches on our platform," the statement said.
It appeared to place an onus on Israeli authorities, as with any other users, to flag offensive content to Facebook monitors.
"We have a set of community standards designed to help people understand what's allowed on Facebook, and we call on people to use our report if they find content they believe violates these rules, so that we can examine each case and take quick action," the statement said.
Erdan, who urged Israelis to "flood" Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg with demands for a policy change, expanded on the Netanyahu government's complaint in remarks published on Sunday.
Erdan joined Education Minister Naftali Bennett in assigning blame to Facebook for the killings, noting that the Palestinian terrorist who stabbed to death Israeli teen Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, announced his intentions on the website before committing the murder.
“I have no doubt that Facebook, today, which brought a positive revolution to the world, unfortunately since the rise of ISIS, has simply become a monster,” Erdan said.
“The young generation in the Palestinian Authority suckles all of its incitement against Israel from Facebook and, in the end, goes and commits murders," he added. "Some of the blood of the victims of the recent attacks, including that of Hallel, may her memory be blessed is unfortunately on the hands of Mark Zuckerberg, because the police and security forces could have been told about the post of that vile murderer.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked called on social media companies to curb pre-emptively content deemed by Israel to be a security threat.
"We want the companies not to approve and to themselves remove posts by terrorist groups and incitement to terrorism without us having to flag each individual post, in just the same manner, for example, that they today do not allow posts and pages with child pornography," she told Israel's Army Radio.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.