Facebook Inc (NASDAQ: FB) defended itself against some accusations from the Israeli government, which assured that the tech giant was uncooperative in stemming messages that might spur Palestinian violence.
Israel’s minister of internal security, Gilad Erdan, accused the social media website and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, of “having blood on his hands” for failing to remove online posts that encourage terrorism, as reported by Forbes.
“We work regularly with safety organizations and policymakers around the world, including Israel, to ensure that people know how to make safe use of Facebook. There is no room for content that promotes violence, direct threats, terrorist or hate speeches on our platform,” Facebook argued.
Erdan stated that Facebook sabotages the work of the Israeli police, because when the Israeli police approached them regarding a resident of Judea and Samaria, the company did not cooperate.
According to the minister, young Palestinians are directly influenced by content on the social network. He also believes Zuckerberg is responsible for those who were murdered, Erdan commented during an interview with Channel 2.
— JTA | Jewish news (@JTAnews) July 4, 2016
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Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked also made a statement regarding Facebook’s position. Shaked called on social media companies to curb pre-emptively content deemed by Israel to be a security threat, as reported by Reuters.
“We want the companies not to approve and to themselves remove posts by terrorist groups and incitement to terrorism without us having to flag each individual post, in just the same manner, for example, that they today do not allow posts and pages with child pornography,” Shaked told Israel’s Army Radio.
Tech giants vs Terrorism
Some tech giants such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Microsoft recently agreed to be part of the European Commission’s code of conduct, which is an attempt to combat the spread of illegal hate speech online in Europe, as it was previously reported by Pulse Headlines.
The IT companies agreed to take some measures aimed to ensure that the online platforms they manage do not offer opportunities for the hate speech to spread virally and have significant consequences to society. The effort came as a response to the terrorist radicalization that takes place in social media, which was corroborated after Europe’s latest terrorist attacks.
Some of the measures to be taken into account include a system developed by the companies to continue the internal procedures and staff training to guarantee that they review the majority of valid notifications, for the removal of the illegal hate speech. The goal is this to happen in less than 24 hours, to remove or disable access to such content as soon as possible, the European Commission noted in a press release.
The companies will work to promote the help from the civil society, who will be the ones contributing to flag the compromising content due to they are not able to find it all by themselves. Also, they will continue their work in identifying and promoting independent counter-narratives, new ideas and initiatives, as well as supporting educational programs that encourage critical thinking.
“The recent terror attacks have reminded us of the urgent need to address illegal online hate speech. Social media is unfortunately one of the tools that terrorist groups use to radicalise young people and racist use to spread violence and hatred,” said Vĕra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. “This agreement is an important step forward to ensure that the internet remains a place of free and democratic expression, where European values and laws are respected.”
The code of conduct is a voluntary commitment that will not emerge penalties if it is unfulfilled by any entity. Efforts have been put by the Commission to advance in this hate-speech measures that are more of a “notice-and-action” procedure that begins with someone notifying a hosting service provider, according to the e-Commerce Directive.
After the provider is notified of the illegal content, an action should be taken about it, and this will be the end of their commitment in this area. However, this is what the Israeli government is criticizing, the fact that someone needs to notify the content for this to be removed.
The news of the commitment made by the IT companies reached each member of the civil society different, according to some statements made by civil groups advocates. Some of them were positive reactions toward the intentions, although there were some very negatives ones too.
The European Jewish Congress celebrated today’s agreement by addressing to it as something that could not have arrived at a better time. The organization, among many others groups of the same origin, have been outspoken about the need to crack down on online abuse, as reported by Christian Science Monitor.
But, the negatives ones were also present and account-free speech positions into account. Even though a part of the agreement includes the assessment of the public’s opinion in this code of conduct on a regular basis, including its impact, organizations such as European Digital Rights (EDRi) condemns the code of conduct as a threat to free speech and criticized that the agreement did not include any civil representative in its proposal.
The organizations argued that the code of conduct downgrades the law to a second-class status behind the leading role of the private companies that are being asked to implement their terms of service arbitrarily, the EDRi said in a conjoined statement with its members.