Facebook removes page calling for violence against Israel

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After a swirl of outrage from Jewish groups and the Israeli government, Facebook Tuesday took down a page calling for a “Third Palestinian Intifada,” or violent uprising against Israel.

The page, which accrued over 350,000 “likes” since its inception, called for a Palestinian uprising on May 15th and warned Facebook against taking the page down.

“If Facebook Blocked This Page…..All Muslims Will Boycott Facebok For Ever [sic],” the “Third Palestinian Intifada” administrators posted.

On Wednesday, Israeli Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein sent a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg calling for the site to take down the page.

“On this Facebook page there are posted many remarks and movie clips which call for the killing of Israelis and Jews and the ‘liberating’ of Jerusalem and of Palestine through acts of violence,” Edelstein wrote.

Facebook initially balked at the request, issuing a statement that explained the organization’s desire to keep Facebook an open forum for debate.

“With now more than 500 million users from around the world, who have varying cultures and ideals, using Facebook as a place to discuss and share things that are important to them, we sometimes find people discussing and posting about topics that others may find controversial, inaccurate, or offensive,” the company wrote.

Nevertheless the page came down on Tuesday. There remain, however, smaller pages calling for the same type of action against Israel.

The Anti-Defamation League welcomed Facebook’s move to remove the page.

“By taking this action, Facebook has now recognized an important standard to be applied when evaluating issues of non-compliance with its terms of service involving distinctions between incitement to violence and legitimate calls for collective expressions of opinion and action,” ADL National Director Abraham Foxman said in a statement. “As it continues to monitor its pages, Facebook should be able to apply this standard in response to complaints about other pages with similar content. We hope that they will continue to vigilantly monitor their pages for other groups that call for violence or terrorism against Jews and Israel.”

Facebook explained that while it still believes in the free expression of ideas, calls for violence will not be tolerated.

“The Page, The Third Palestinian Intifada, began as a call for peaceful protest, even though it used a term that has been associated with violence in the past,” Facebook explained. “In addition, the administrators initially removed comments that promoted violence.  However, after the publicity of the Page, more comments deteriorated to direct calls for violence.  Eventually, the administrators also participated in these calls.  After administrators of the page received repeated warnings about posts that violated our policies, we removed the page.”
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