Israel begins move to censor Facebook

A bill allowing Israeli courts to force social media companies to remove content defined as incitement passed its first reading in parliament on Tuesday morning.

The “Facebook bill” sponsored by ministers Gilad Erdan and Ayelet Shaked would allow Israeli courts to immediately order content taken down if it is deemed to pose a public, personal or state security risk and constitutes a criminal offense.

Facebook adheres to its own removal policy when it comes to online content and freedom of speech issues, which has earned it criticism from Israeli politicians and officials who have called for the company to remove offending posts by Palestinians.

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Facebook officials met with Erdan and Shaked in September to address their concerns over material on the website deemed to incite terrorism, and Facebook was one of four companies that last month announced a shared initiative to more actively curb such content.

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Palestinian journalists and social media activists have accused Facebook of bias towards Israel and in September began an online campaign calling for protests with the hashtag #FBcensorsPalestine.

Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler of the Israel Democracy Institute has criticized the Facebook bill as too broad.

The bill will not solve the problem and will hurt freedom of expression for all, she said, according to the Globe.

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