Incitement on Facebook page [file].
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Palestinian activists called on Facebook users to boycott Facebook and instead post tweets on Twitter under the hashtag #FBCensorsPalestine between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Sunday to protest the closure of a number of Palestinian Facebook accounts.
Facebook, in cooperation with the Israeli government, has disabled over the past several months a number of Palestinian accounts that it has said “promote violence,” including those of top Hamas officials, such as Ezzat al-Rishq and Salah Bardawail.
Palestinian activists say Facebook intensified its campaign to close Palestinian accounts on Friday, disabling accounts of multiple editors of the al-Quds al-Ikbariyyah News Network and Shehab News Network pages in addition to those of many activists and journalists.
Facebook executives, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan met September 11 in Israel and agreed to work together to combat incitement.
Bassam Shweiki, a Palestinian activist from Hebron, who received notice on Sunday that his account has been disabled for three days, told The Jerusalem Post that Facebook is disabling “anything that smells Palestinian.”
“Facebook says they are fighting against incitement, but most of the pages that have been blocked do not say anything against Israel in a harsh way,” stated Shweiki, who also leads the Hebron Defense Committee, a non-violent anti-Israeli military rule organization.
“I use Facebook to peacefully, let me say that again, peacefully, demonstrate against the occupation and settlements.
“I call on Facebook to respect our struggle.”
Mahzoz Shlalda, an activist from Sair, told the Post that while some Palestinians make posts promoting violence, many Israelis do as well.
“I have seen Palestinian Facebook pages that encourage violence against Israelis and Israeli Facebook pages that encourage violence against Palestinians.
But Facebook has only taken action against the Palestinian pages, while ignoring the Israeli pages,” remarked Shlalda.
“I have no problem with closing a Facebook page that encourages violence, but we want equality here, and Israelis should face consequences for posts that incite violence.”
The Berl Katznelson Foundation and Vigo, a research firm, found that 50% of online threats are directed at Arabs and Palestinians. Facebook holds that it is taking action against users promoting violence, a violation of its guidelines.
“There is no room on our platform for content that encourages violence, direct threats, terror or verbal abuse.
We have an array of clear-cut community guidelines meant to help people understand what is permitted on Facebook,” the social media site said in July.
Government officials have heavily criticized Facebook for not taking action against what it defined as incitement. Erdan told Channel 2 on July 3 that Facebook is partially responsible for the murder of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, whom Muhammed Taraira stabbed to death as she slept on June 30.
Taraira wrote on Facebook in the weeks leading up to his stabbing attack that he wished to die a “martyr.”
More recently, some officials, including Shaked, have praised Facebook for removing 95% of the posts Israel brought to its attention.
The Palestinian Authority has not issued an official statement regarding Facebook’s closure of Palestinian accounts.
Palestinians rely heavily on Facebook to spread information and read the news.