Facebook complying with almost all Israeli requests to remove content, minister says

Facebook is complying With 95 percent of Israeli requests to remove unwanted content, an Israeli minister has said.

Published: September 17, 2017, 8:59 am

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    YouTube, however, has only been removing 80 percent of content cited by government, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Haaretz, an Israeli daily.

    Facebook has sent a delegation to Israel, and Facebook executives met with Israeli officials while visiting the country on Monday.

    Justice Minister Shaked said on Monday that Facebook and YouTube had been complying with up to 95 percent of Israel’s requests for taking down content that “incites Palestinian violence”. The minister spoke at the Annual International Conference on Counter-Terrorism at the Herzilya Interdisciplinary Center.

    She said that requests made by Israel to take down content from May to August this year, were almost all fulfilled YouTube, which is a subsidiary of Google, had complied with almost all requests too.

    She said the figure was up from 50 percent previously. “That is an impressive statistic. Nevertheless, we understand that the amount of incitement on the internet is much higher and we must keep exerting the pressure, which we will do,” Shaked said.

    Together with Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, they have been at the forefront of a campaign to force social media companies to bow to Israeli requests to take down unwanted content.

    Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday reported that Shaked and Erdan had proposed to the Facebook executives that the company treat words like “intifada,” “stabbing,” “Nazis” as grounds for removing content. They also called for taking down videos inciting stabbing attacks or containing anti-Semitic caricatures.

    Reuters reported that neither Facebook nor YouTube would comment on Shaked’s comments on compliance in removing such content.

    Facebook said the visit by executives – Joel Kaplan, vice president of global public policy and a former deputy chief of staff for policy at the White House, and Monika Bickert, head of product policy – was part a worldwide tour. Bickert is in charge of setting the content policies.

    The company called the meeting “constructive,” but would give no further details about it.

    “Online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policymakers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world,” Facebook said in a statement issued on Monday.

    It added that its community standards “make it clear there is no place for terrorists or content that promotes terrorism on Facebook”.

    The Facebook team also met with the opposition Zionist Union leader. The Union had submitted legislation that would force social networks to self-monitor or face a fine, because even though “social media platforms were not responsible for terror, they had an obligation to do more to fight it”.

    The consulting firm Accenture put together a dedicated team of subcontractors to take down unwanted content for Facebook. Sources say the team of several thousand censors have some of their largest offices in Manila, the Philippines, and Warsaw, Poland.

    While Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg pretends to be running a hightech company — run by algorithms, and free of human judgment, Zuckerberg is actually running a media company.

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