Friday 25 March 2011

Intifada on Facebook

Writing in Commentary (23 March 2011), Alana Goodman asks if Facebook will remove a page which calls for a third Intifada. She writes:

It’s not exactly news that there are anti-Israel and anti-Semitic groups on Facebook, but one of them has the Israeli government particularly concerned. The Minister of Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein sent a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg today, asking for the removal of a page that calls for a third Intifada, because he believes it could incite violence against Jews. He writes, “There is no need to explain what the outrageous incitement on the page in question can cause – from harming innocent Jews and Israelis and through to an armed struggle against Israel.”

According to, the Facebook group has attracted nearly 250,000 members since it was created less than a month ago. It calls for the launch of a third Intifada on May 15 (Israel’s Independence Day, which is sometimes called Nakba, or “catastrophe” day by the Palestinians).

Edelstein is the most high-profile figure to ask for the page to be taken down, but will Facebook actually remove it? The third Intifada group has also warned the social network that it will launch a Muslim boycott of the site if the page is removed – probably an empty threat, but it could potentially have some ramifications for Facebook.

According to the website’s terms of service, members can’t post content that is “threatening” or “incites violence.” However, Facebook’s decisions about when to enforce this policy have been pretty arbitrary in the past.

The social network removed (and later restored) the official “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” page, after complaints from Muslim groups. And there are countless pages that can be perceived as racist, sexist or violent that are still up on the site.

But not only does the third Intifada group violate the terms of service, it also has the potential to be a dangerous organizing tool. In light of the terrorist attacks in Israel over the past few days, Facebook should take the necessary precaution and remove the page.

The president of the British Messianic Jewish Alliance, has sent out the following e-mail:

"A Facebook page was created calling for a third Intifada on Israel. They are calling for the Arab world to take over Israel. The number of people clicking on the “Like” button is increasing every hour (currently 300,000). We MUST have Facebook take action and remove this page. Please click [this link] and scroll down the left side of the page where you will see (under where it shows how many people like it) a “Report Page” link. Select that option and choose “Violence or harmful behaviour” and then “Credible threat of violence”.

"If you don’t have a Facebook account, you should still forward this to others."

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