Facebook grants Israeli hate speech impunity, new study reveals

conducted by 7amleh, the Arab Centre for the Advancement of Social Media, found there is a new hate-inciting post against Palestinians uploaded every 71 seconds, and one out of nine posts about Palestinians contains a curse or a call for violence.

It is in the face of constant accusations of Palestinian hate speech by Israeli ministers 7amleh decided to conduct this study for the third consecutive year, 7amleh’s Executive Director, Nadim Nashif, told Palestine Monitor. It’s important to go and see [if] the reality portrayed that Palestinians are inciting night and day and Israeli social media [is true], Nashif said.

In fact, the results show not only is there a significant amount of hate speech published by groups such as ‘Reclaiming Jewish Nationality’, ‘Fighting for the Land of Israel’ and ‘The Lies of the Leftists’ (all translated from Hebrew), but in addition they are met with silence and impunity by both Facebook and Israeli law enforcement forces.

This silence and lack of action contrasts sharply with the response to Palestinian posts. According to the findings of an Israeli company hired by 7amleh, Facebook responds positively to 85% of Israeli requests to remove Palestinian posts, Nashif explained.

This is not the first time Facebook has faced accusations of double standards. On March 3, Al Jazeera reported dozens of Palestinian journalists protested the blocking of Palestinian Facebook accounts on phony pretexts, Salama Maarouf from the Journalists Support Committee said. The demonstration was held outside the UN office in Gaza City, and protest signs accused Facebook of being complicit with the occupation.

In Sept. 2016, Associated Press reported the Israeli government and Facebook were meeting to determine how to tackle incitement on social media. The meeting was called and led by Israeli Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, notorious for her particularly extremist views. According to Haaretz, these include: strengthening Israel’s hold on the West Bank with the goal of annexation without granting equal rights to Palestinians. To say the least, the meeting between Facebook and Shaked raised concern.

When asked by Palestine Monitor whether an official agreement between Facebook and Israel explained double standards, Nashif replied that regardless of an official agreement, the results of the study point to heavy cooperation. Such cooperation can be explained by examining the economic, technological and political ties, Nashif said.

The consequences of Israeli hate speech being met with silence and impunity are grave. As Nashif pointed out; this hate will not stay on social media, it will also be taken into the real world and [put] into practice. Indeed, findings by a recently published studyby Warwick University suggest that, social media has not only become a fertile soil for the spread of hateful ideas but also motivates real-life action.