Israeli organisation charges Facebook of complacency with incitement, demands action

September 12, 2019 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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An Israeli organization that monitors Palestinian incitement in the media has charged Facebook with complicity with incitement to terrorism and has issued a demand that it cease from doing and shut down pages that incite to terrorism.

The entrance to Turmus Ayya – A Palestinian village in Area B, at the Ramallah and al-Bireh Governorate in Judea and Samaria, decorated with Fatah flags in yellow. Judea and Samaria, Jun 13, 2019. Photo by Esty Dziubov/TPS

The Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) stated Tuesday that in 2018, “Facebook was an unwitting partner in Fatah’s terror promotion,” but in 2019 “Facebook is a partner in Fatah’s terror promotion by choice.

PMW has repeatedly petitioned the social media giant on the issue but has received no response.

In January 2019, PMW sent to Facebook officials a copy of its report on Fatah’s use of its page to promote terror and glorify terrorists throughout 2018.

PMW director Itamar Marcus spoke with the Director of Facebook’s Global Counterterrorism Policy Team, Brian Fishman, and described how Fatah’s use of Facebook for its terror promotion was both life-threatening and in violation of Facebook’s Community Standards.

Fishman assured Marcus that Facebook would continue to follow PMW’s exposure of Fatah’s misuse of Facebook and would close it down if it violated Facebook’s rules. However, Facebook did not honour this commitment.

PMW flagged many Fatah posts and notified Facebook repeatedly during 2019, but Facebook refused to remove any of them.

Responding to the inquiries, Facebook claimed that Fatah’s incitement to terrorism “doesn’t go against one of our specific Community Standards,” and if PMW finds the incitement to terrorism “offensive or distasteful” it can unfriend or unfollow Fatah’s page.

“Facebook’s mission is to ‘build community and bring the world closer together,’ not to build easy communication lines to promote terror,” PMW stated. “For Facebook to allow its platform to be used this way is incomprehensible and abhorrent.”

PMW launched a campaign again demanding that Facebook immediately close down Fatah’s official page “before more innocent lives are lost to murderers who are inspired and drawn to terror by Fatah’s Facebook page.”

Fatah utilizes social media as a platform to turn its terrorists into heroes and role models, and through its Facebook page “instantaneously promotes terror to its 224,000 Facebook followers,” PMW underscored.

PMW issued a new 40-page report on Tuesday that shows that Fatah’s use of Facebook from January to June 2019 still constitutes a central part of its terror promotion mechanism.

For instance, on March 28, 2019, Fatah used Facebook to glorify 17-year-old suicide bomber Ayyat Al-Akhras as “magnificent.”

“Self-sacrificing fighter Ayyat Al-Akhras… blew herself up in a shopping centre of the Zionists – A Magnificent Martyrdom-seeker,” Fatah wrote.

Fatah repeatedly posted photos of 19-year-old terrorist Omar Abu Laila on Facebook in the weeks after he murdered two Israelis in March 2019.

On January 1, 2019, to open the New Year, Fatah glorified 13 deadly terror attacks and terrorists of every kind imaginable: a plane hijacking, a bus hijacking, hostage-taking in a hotel, several shooting attacks, two suicide bombers, and several terror planners.

PMW “finds it incomprehensible that while terror glorification and promotion were facilitated unknowingly by Facebook in 2018, Facebook is now Fatah’s willing partner in 2019. PMW repeats its demand that Facebook immediately and permanently close Fatah’s Facebook page,” it concluded.

Facebook has previously faced allegations and legal action over its facilitation of pages owned and used by terrorist organizations but has dodged the charges in most instances.

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