Knesset to Discuss Law on Terror-Related Social Media Content

Then-President Shimon Peres meets with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, March 06, 2012. Photo by Moshe Milner/GPO/FLASH90
Then-President Shimon Peres meets with Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, in 2012. (Moshe Milner/GPO/Flash90)

The Knesset is set to discuss a bill that will allow a court to order the removal of social media content that is deemed offensive, of detrimental interest to state security or supportive of terrorism. With a court order, technology experts employed by the state will have the right to raid servers of companies that sponsor these posts, and block them without having to inform the companies.

Currently, when security officials see incitement-related posts on social media, they file complaints with the company hosting the offending content, which may or may not respond quickly or at all. A spokesperson for the Justice Ministry said that the rules for removal of content under the new law will be very tight, and will be used only in cases where there is an actual incitement to or glorification of violence, and that the right to free speech will be protected.

Also on the agenda is an expansion of a law that will allow the summary closure of online sites, such as sites that allow online “shaming” and invective against individuals, and sites that promote or allow the promotion of terror. In such cases, the Ministry will inform the site or company hosting the content and inform them that it violates Israeli law, giving them an opportunity to deal with the problem themselves before intervening.

In a weekend interview, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan railed at Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, saying that he had “Jewish blood on his hands” for allowing his platform to be used to promote and praise terror acts.

The blood of Jews murdered in terror attacks is on the hands of not only the terrorists who carry out those attacks, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Motzoei Shabbos, but also on the hands of a man half a world away – Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook. Speaking in an interview on Channel Two, Erdan said that the social media site was being used for “monstrous purposes,” spreading the message of terrorism to encourage more attacks on Israelis. Recent murders of Israelis, including that of Hallel Yaffa Ariel, Hy”d, the 13-year-old who was murdered while she slept in her home in Kiryat Arba last Thursday, could be laid at the doorstep of “Mr. Zuckerberg,” said Erdan, because “they could have reported posts that terrorists put on their pages, such as in the case of last week’s horrible murder.”

Press reports said that the terrorist murderer, Muhammad Tararia, had recently written numerous posts praising terror attacks against Israelis, with the last one saying that “I have the right to die as a martyr, and I want to take advantage of this right.”

While it is not Facebook’s responsibility to seek out such posts, it is the company’s obligation to do something about them when they are brought to the company’s attention – and they have refused to do so. There have been several instances, Erdan noted, where police shared with Facebook disturbing information about a resident of Yehudah and Shomron, “and the company does not cooperate.”