Ayelet Shaked, nouvelle ministre de la Justice.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced late Wednesday that she was creating a committee to “fight the phenomenon of the spilling of blood on social media,” following the recent suicide of senior police officer Dep.-Ch. Ephraim Bracha after he was harassed on social media by supporters of Rabbi Yoshiyahu Yosef Pinto for turning the rabbi in to the authorities.
She also cited recent attempts by certain haredi sectors to incite against those haredim choosing to join the IDF by posting information about them online, as well as social media campaigns against judges.
“Words can kill,” the justice minister said, explaining that the committee would work to come up with standards that strike the right balance between “freedom of speech and freedom to incite.”
The announcement came a day after police arrested an Arab man from east Jerusalem for making multiple posts and images applauding ISIS and urging people to support the terrorist organization, and also coincided with an announcement from Facebook that it had agreed to assist the Israel Internet Association in removing Facebook profiles with “Death to Arabs” or “Death to Jews” as part of their names.
In May, a “Facebook shaming” incident led to a suicide as Ariel Ronis, a manager at the Interior Ministry’s Population, Immigration and Border Crossing Authority, took his own life after a Facebook post accusing him of racism went viral.
Ronis left a suicide note on his own Facebook profile detailing his work to promote equality in Israel and saying his name now was linked with racism and he could not live with that.
The committee will be headed by former Supreme Court justice Edna Arbel and also will include Prof. Asa Kasher, former MK Arieh Eldad, Makor Rishon editor Hagai Segel, Dr.
Anat Peleg, Dr. Nimrod Kozlovski and former police interrogations head Yoav Segalovich.
Shaked said the committee will present her with recommendations for legislation in a few months.
Peleg, director of the center for Media and Law at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post it’s too early to talk about what will happen, but that she is optimistic about the future of online interactions as the law catches up with the Internet.
Bracha and Ronis are two examples of incidents that ended in the extreme case of suicide, the first due to blunt news coverage and the second due to online shaming, she said, also addressing the politicization of online interaction, even in relatively small acts, such as “unfriending” someone on Facebook as a political act.
The politicization of online discourse soared, during Operation Protective Edge, she said.
Over the past year, studies have shown that online discourse has become much harsher.
These are some of the background issues that have raised awareness of the need for the law to catch up to what happens online, she said, also mentioning the difficulties in dealing with anonymous posters.
Cooperation with online companies, such as Facebook, is an integral part of the solution, she said.