Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg 311 (R).
(photo credit: Philippe Wojazer/Reuters)
While most of us would normally support unhindered freedom of speech, screaming
“fire” in a crowded theater is not only a social faux pas; it’s illegal because
it’s likely to lead to injury, maybe even death. Anyone who screams fire in a
crowded theater has forfeited their right to free speech, I think most of us
And in the same way, those who scream “kill the Jews” on
social-media sites have lost their right to free speech, as well.
that introduction, we can discuss a topic that needs to be discussed these days:
the use of Facebook by radical, anti-Israel Arabs to organize provocations of
Israel, whether inside Israel itself or at our borders.
proved a boon to social-cause organizers of all sorts; for example, students in
New Jersey recently staged a walkout in schools across the state to protest
budget cuts. I don’t know what Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg thinks
about using his platform for social activism, but he’s got to be happy to read
stories like the one where Wael Ghonim, organizer of the revolution in Egypt,
wants to thank him personally for creating Facebook and enabling him to organize
There’s no shortage of causes for those seeking one, and
many of them have an “office” on Facebook because that’s where the potential
supporters are. Those of us who are members (any exceptions out there?) are
besieged almost daily by a plethora of causes to support. (I just got
pinged for “Help Send up to 5,000 Girls to School in Malawi,” “Support the
children of Itamar Massacre” and “Help remove Palestinian hate-site from
Which is a bit of a coincidence, because that’s exactly what we’re
talking about here. News reports last week, and last month, said
Palestinians were using Facebook to organize for the various Nakbas and Naksas.
I don’t know about the organizing, but the Facebook pages were certainly being
used to broadcast the most disgusting anti-Semitic comments.
example, is the text in the “about” box for a page called “Against Jews,” an
Arabic- language Facebook page that I found after searching Facebook for the
term “Jews” (with the Arabic characters supplied by Google Translate and the
page translated by Google): Jews are [the] disaster of this world. Together here
we have more than 1,000 anti-Jews. Here on this page we see the ugliness
of Israel in the world. Jews are the misfortune of this world.”
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what Zuckerberg had in mind when he built a platform to facilitate a “meeting of
Not according to the Facebook Terms of Service, which state that a
user “will not post content that is: hateful, threatening or pornographic;
incites violence.” In the past, Facebook has banned hate groups, such as the one
that “hates Ghandi” and several engaged in Holocaust denial.
I did a
Facebook group search for terms associated with Holocaust denial (like
“Holohoax”) but was only able to find a couple of small, apparently inactive
groups. Ditto for groups engaged in anti-black racism (a search for a pejorative
used for black people yields only anti-racist groups), and there is barely one
small group with a dozen or so members of “white nationalists.” Ditto for
searches for Hitler and other anti-Semitic “buzzwords.” Certainly some of
the hundreds of millions of users on Facebook would want to set up such groups,
but clearly Facebook is enforcing its terms of service.
But somehow, the
Arab world gets a “pass” when it comes to anti-Semitism. To find sharp political
opinions on Arabic-language Facebook pages against Israeli policies is not
surprising, but what about comments like “God destroy the Jews and recruit
[others] to destroy them,” “Kill the Jewish dogs” and “Believers get together
now to cut out the devil cancer of Jews?” Note that I haven’t even quoted the
bilge these people spew about Israel and how Israelis “drink the blood of
Muslims” (that’s out there too) and the like.
It seems like when it comes
to Arab hatred of Jews and Israel, the rules go out the window – and the haters
get a “pass” – because we “understand” how they feel. Of course, such hate
expressed against any other group gets booted off Facebook almost
immediately. Note that the Arabic-language version of the Facebook TOS
also bans hate speech and “hostility in violations of human
There have been several petitions in Facebook calling for a halt
to the most egregious (English-language) anti-Israel pages calling for violence
against Israelis and a “third intifada”; that page is still up. And it’s
unlikely that the disgusting hate on Arabic Facebook pages is going anywhere;
there are just too many of them.
Is there anything that can be done?
Should the government recruit Arabic speakers to “invade” these groups and plant
some disinformation? Should Israel be filing official complaints about the
hatred on Facebook – which, after all, has half a billion members – at every
opportunity? How about using some available “trolling” tactics (see
)? Any of our super social-media experts ready to take on a
project that needs to be taken care of ASAP? digital.newzgeek.com
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