Facebook suspends Likud campaign bot over 'hate speech' violation

The suspension follows a message calling on voters to avoid a left-wing government of “Arabs who want to destroy us all."

Facebook  (photo credit: JERUSALEM POST)
(photo credit: JERUSALEM POST)
Facebook has temporarily suspended the Likud campaign’s Facebook Messenger chatbot for a violation of hate speech policy, the social media giant said on Thursday.
“After careful review of the Likud campaign’s bot activities, we found a violation of our hate speech policy,” said a Facebook spokesperson.
“We also found that the bot was misusing the platform in the time period allowed to contact people. As a result, we temporarily suspended the bot for 24 hours. Should there be any additional violations, we will continue to take appropriate action.”
The suspension follows a message received by visitors to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official Facebook page on Wednesday, calling on voters to avoid a left-wing government of “Arabs who want to destroy us all – women, children and men – and allow a nuclear Iran that will kill us.”
According to Facebook’s community standards, hate speech is defined as “a direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics,” including race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity and serious disease or disability.
Netanyahu told KAN Reshet Bet on Thursday that he was not responsible for the message, but rather it was the result of a mistake made by a headquarters employee.
“Think logically. Do you think I would write that in order to deny it?” said Netanyahu.
“I have friends in Arab countries. I have respect for every human, whether he is a Muslim or a Christian. Our relationships with the Arab world and my relationships with Arab leaders – no Israeli leader has ever had such a thing.”
Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh, who said he complained to Facebook about the message on Wednesday, welcomed the decision.
“Yesterday we went directly to Facebook and demanded that they stop giving a platform to Netanyahu’s dangerous incitement, and today we see the results,” Odeh said. “We defeated the camera project, and we will also defeat the incitement.”
Gil Hoffman and Tzvi Joffre contributed to this story.