In recent years, social media has become a widespread vehicle for the dissemination of news and information – but sometimes that dissemination, even if factual, is problematic. To avoid those problems, Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky, chairman of the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee, is proposing a law that would prohibit the transmission of news about terror attack fatalities and other major events on social media, until they are officially confirmed and the information released by authorities.
The purpose of the measure, said Slomiansky, is not censorship, but sensitivity; in recent years, he said, there have been “too many instances in which individuals found out from social media that a loved one had been killed or hurt in a terror attack. In some cases, the information is incorrect, but even if the facts are true, it is terribly insensitive to inform people that a son, father or mother was killed in a fleeting social media post which is often accompanied by disturbing images,” Slomiansky told Army Radio.
The latest example of this phenomenon occurred just a few weeks ago, after the terror attack at the Panorama complex in south Tel Aviv. Killed in that attack was Reuven Aviram, who along with Aharon Yasaiev, Hy”d, was murdered by a Palestinian worker who tried to enter a room in a religious-articles factory where a minyan was davening Minchah; unable to do so, he stabbed the two people to death outside the room.
Aviram’s family discovered that Reuven had been murdered via a social media app – where information is by nature unconfirmed – sending the family into a frenzy of worry and uncertainty as they sought to determine whether or not the information was true. It was only hours later that the authorities actually confirmed the facts of Aviram’s death.
Another recent victim of the phenomenon was Zionist Union head Yitzchak Herzog. Social media said that his son had been killed in a terror attack, and the family spent many hours making worried phone calls until they discovered that the news was untrue.
Slomiansky said that he would present the bill to the Ministerial Law Committee next week.