Israeli Ministers Meet with Facebook Officials, Announce New Law to Combat Online Incitement

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Palestinian Incitement Incitement to Violence in Palestinian media (Illustration)

Israeli Ministers Meet with Facebook Officials, Announce New Law to Combat Online Incitement

Written by Michael Bachner/TPS on June 22, 2016

Jerusalem (TPS) – Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan met with Facebook officials on Wednesday and requested that the popular social network take stronger measures to remove posts encouraging terror. The ministers are sponsoring a bill that would give Israeli authorities more tools to require the removal of from social networks of offensive content, including incitement to terror.

At the meeting, Erdan and Shaked discussed the widespread use of the social network to motivate and encourage terrorist activity. They stressed that the latest wave of terror attacks known as “lone-wolf” attacks was directly connected to online incitement. The ministers asked the Facebook management team to remove incitement-filled material within 24 hours of its publication, similar to the website’s policy in European Union countries.

The ministers described the new bill as part of the “battle against online incitement.” The bill is also intended to deal with online shaming, insults against public officers such as policemen, judges, and social workers, defamation, and any content that constitutes a “substantial threat to national security or to the safety of the public or an individual.”

“Terror organizations are utilizing the internet for unacceptable purposes,” said Justice Minister Shaked. “In order to stop the incitement from spreading, we should act quickly and efficiently to update existing laws so that they meet the new challenges we face.”

“Many Western countries such as France and Australia have already understood that the issue requires unique measures to be taken,” she added. “Israel stands at the forefront of the global battle on terror and it therefore cannot lag behind in the field of legislation against offensive content.”

If the bill is ratified, the Justice Ministry will directly contact websites and social networks such as Google and Facebook on any occasion that published content is considered to be offensive. The ministry will warn the companies that the content violates the Israeli penal code as well as their own terms of use.

According to the bill, Israeli courts will have the power to force any company, institution, or person involved in the publication of prohibited content to remove it. The ministers stressed that due to potential restrictions on freedom of speech that may be caused by the new law, court orders forcing the removal of content will only be issued in extreme cases. These orders will only deal with the content and not with those who published it.

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