‘Kill a Jew’ page on Facebook sparks furor

Detractors claim site not proactive enough in stopping hate-mongers.

Facebook 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Facebook 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
A murderous anti-Semitic theme appeared on Facebook Sunday, when a user named “Alex Cookson” launched an open invitation to an “event” called “Kill a Jew Day.”
The page on the popular social networking Web site urged users to violence “anywhere you see a Jew” between July 4 and July 22. A large image of a swastika was placed at the top of the page. Under the heading “description,” Cookson wrote, “You know the drill guys.”
It was the fourth time that a call to murder Jews had been put on Facebook within recent days.
The site attracted a torrent of anti-Semitic responses.
“Can’t wait to rape the dead baby Jews,” one user wrote.
Another user posted images of corpses piled on one another. A third user posted quotes by Adolf Hitler.
Within hours, however, a large number of Israeli users converged on the site and posted comments on the page, with some expressing their disgust, and others mocking Cookson and his supporters.
Others still expressed their anger at the page by sending profanities and threatening to track down anti-Semitic users.
According to the Jewish Internet Defense Web site (JIDF), the page is one of a number “kill a Jew” Facebook pages that have been launched and subsequently removed following complaints in recent days.
David Appletree, founder of JIDF, told The Jerusalem Post that incitement to anti-Semitic murder was a prevalent phenomenon on Facebook, and that not enough was being done to stop it.
“I feel it’s very dangerous.
This is part of a long-running campaign that we’ve fighting for well over two years,” Appletree said.
“They’re taken down but they come back and they’re determined to keep them up.
It’s very dangerous,” he added.
Appletree said online anti- Semitism has already helped spur violent incidents, such as the 2007 assault on Holocaust author Elie Wiesel in San Francisco by a Holocaust denier, and the gun attack on the Holocaust Museum in Washington by a white supremacist armed with a rifle, which claimed the life of a security guard.
“This incitement has been the precursor to violence against Jews,” he said.
On his Web site, Appletree wrote, “This is precisely why Facebook needs to take more proactive measures (ie. deactivating accounts responsible for, and taking part, in, this material).
Facebook must implement IP bans on people involved in such material. Finally, law enforcement should get involved, Facebook should be subpoenaed, the IP’s of the people threatening and inciting violence should be obtained, and legal action should be immediately pursued.”
Appletree told The Post that Facebook could implement technologies that are sensitive to keywords which could prevent such pages from being loaded.
“Facebook is not proactive enough,” he said.
Facebook said it would review the event page in question after being alerted to it by the Post. Facebook removed the page from its site on Sunday evening for
violating its terms of use.
Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes added, “Unfortunately ignorant people exist and we absolutely feel a social responsibility to silence them on Facebook if their statements turn to direct hate. That’s why we have policies that prohibit hateful content and we have built a robust reporting infrastructure and an expansive team to review reports and remove content quickly.”
Noyes added, “We take our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities very seriously and react quickly to remove reported content that violates our policies. Specifically, we’re sensitive to content that includes pornography, bullying, hate speech, and actionable threats of violence.
“The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving our more than 400 million users the freedom to express themselves and maintaining a safe and trusted environment. When groups or pages make real threats or statements of hate we remove them. We encourage people to report anything they feel violates our policies using the report links located throughout the site.”
In 2009, Facebook came under fire for refusing to remove groups that promoted Holocaust denial on the social networking site.