(photo credit: REUTERS)
Since the Arab Spring began, and Israel’s neighborhood here in the Middle East has virtually imploded, I have been haunted with one thought: A nice Jewish boy had an idea for a social network, and when his dream became a reality, chaos resulted. The very creation of a mechanism for mass social communication resulted in an out-of-control vehicle for murder and mayhem.
You and I don’t see the other side of Facebook and Twitter. This is because we are unable to view the Arabic sites which are not delivered to those of us who speak only English or Hebrew.
While you and I are posting pictures of our new grandchild for friends and family to see, the Arab world is posting pages for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah.
They are posting videos of how to best murder a Jew. Which knives are best? How to sharpen them to perfection? How to build a homemade bomb? You and I live in a dream world oblivious to how home-grown terrorists around the globe are being nurtured from the comfort of their own living rooms.
The panel on “Has incitement on Facebook become a weapon” at the Shurat HaDin conference in Jerusalem titled “Towards a New Law of War” was extremely disturbing. This powerful conference with its presentation of more than 40 of the highest quality experts on legal issues, current warfare, Israeli accomplishments and international realities will fuel my pen for months to come.
While most of us know the Internet is used to incite the Arab world to hatred, we rarely see it ourselves. Living in a bubble makes life more pleasant, but leaves us naïve at best.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram executives are well aware of how their sites are being abused. Communications with the organizations result in beautifully phrased responses about their intention to “look into” any and all claims of misuse on their sites. They promise to investigate and remove disturbing items. At the Shurat HaDin conference, Zionist Union MK Revital Swid, a criminal defense lawyer, spoke at length about her communications with Facebook’s policy director on this issue. She originally brought him to the Knesset to discuss cyber-bullying, a far less lethal concern.
Hundreds of thousands of terror solicitations are posted daily on the social networking sites, and those in the position to remove them do little to stop the onslaught. They will continue in this vein until they are forced by a court of law to act responsibly.
The proof that they have the capability to control the removal of most of the horrendous material has already been displayed through their cooperation with authorities in removing pedophilia from their sites. Key words and phrases programmed into their systems can remove the vile postings calling for and instructing how to murder Jews.
It was tormenting to actually view the videos created by our enemies. To see people on screen act out how to grab a Jew from behind and slit his throat takes one’s breath away. To see the cartoon illustrations of how to drive up to a car with an innocent Jewish family in it, and pull out an assault weapon to spray the windshield so that the innocent Mom, Dad and children will all be murdered, is beyond disturbing. You cannot miss that they are Jews in the videos. They are drawn wearing kippot and tallitot. They are drawn with shtreimels on their heads and arrows point to the best places to thrust the knife for a successful kill. The potential murderers are instructed how to dress as religious Jews for their assaults. Even for those of us who do not speak Arabic, the message is clear.
The fact that there is no removal of the home pages for Hamas, Islamic State, Islamic Jihad and their tentacle organizations is an overt abuse of the public trust.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram exist solely for profit for their stockholders.
Their moral responsibility to be proactive is now a legal issue being discussed by the international community. Without a formal, legal response to their inactivity, they will not be fully committed to the prevention of the dissemination of incitement to murder. For anyone reading this article who thinks that because he is not a Jew it is his not his problem, think again. The attacks in Orlando and San Bernardino were fueled by the Internet.
Any “lone wolf” who is disturbed and full of anger can become part of the civilian army of jihad.
There are legal routes to force the social networking sites to clean up their acts. In the United States, Congress can amend criminal statutes to define media and Internet responsibility. Lawsuits must be filed to create the precedent that – with each posting not prevented – there will be financial liability. This must translate into massive monetary losses for these powerful influences on our lives. Only financial punishment has proven to force the hands of those in power to be proactive in fighting this new war of hatred and murder. The social networks thus far are essentially shifting their responsibility onto you and me.
“If” we report a problem, they will look into it. They are fully capable of using their technology to remove offensive and dangerous postings without you and me being required to write letters asking them to do so. Inaction on their part is actually benign participation in the spreading of terror and murder world-wide.
One question plagues me after all that I have learned. “With all of your success and wealth, Mr. Zuckerberg, how do you sleep at night?” The author is a member of the Jerusalem Press Club, and has been a pro-Israel activist worldwide for more than 30 years as a participant in political missions to the Soviet Union, China, Ethiopia and the US Congress. Her in-depth interviews aired in Jerusalem on her radio show Barbara Diamond One-on-One and on London’s Spectrum Radio.