Facebook anti-incitement bill advanced to final readings

The bill was initiated by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud).

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July 15, 2018 17:26
1 minute read.
Palestinian posters on social media calling for 'Days of Rage' following reports President Donald Tr

Palestinian posters on social media calling for 'Days of Rage' following reports President Donald Trump planned to move the US embassy to Jerusalem. (photo credit: ARAB SOCIAL MEDIA)

 
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Social media providers may soon be required to remove terrorist content, according to a bill passed Monday in the Knesset Law Committee, and is set to pass into law in the plenum on Wednesday.

The Removal of Terror-Inciting Content from Social Media Bill – dubbed the “Facebook bill” – would empower district courts to order companies like Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to remove posts that the authorities consider “a criminal endangerment to personal, public or national security,” or could severely damage the Israeli economy or infrastructure.

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The justice minister would be required to report annually on the bill’s implementation to the Knesset Law Committee. The bill was initiated by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud).

Shaked said Facebook has accepted most of the state’s requests to remove inciteful content.

But she said other companies have been less cooperative.

“Israel is fighting terror on the web,” Shaked said. “Israel is one of the pioneering countries when it comes to legislation against online incitement, and we are coordinated with other countries as well.”

Zionist Union MK Revital Swid, who sponsored the bill, said that just like Facebook, Twitter, and Google remove pornographic content, removing incitement is their responsibility.

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But she expressed concern that the final version of the bill applied to more than just incitement to terror.

“The Facebook bill circumvents standard legal procedure and threatens to transform Israel into a world leader in repression of free speech,” said Dr. Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, the director of Media Reform Program and Open Government Program at the Israel Democracy Institute.

A Facebook spokeswoman had no comment on Monday but during an earlier stage in the legislative process, a Facebook spokeswoman said the company was constantly looking to improve the effectiveness of its safety measures and had ongoing dialogue with other companies, NGOs and law enforcement to that end.

“At Facebook, nothing is more important than community safety and we work hard to keep people safe,” the Facebook spokeswoman said. “We have zero tolerance for terrorists, praise for their acts and incitement to real-world violence. We work aggressively to remove it from our platform as soon as we become aware of it.”

Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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