In the wake of an 11-day war in Gaza, Israel’s major TV broadcast channels, newspapers, news websites and radios have rallied to urge Facebook to take immediate action against hateful posts inciting physical harm of journalists.
Addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on May 26, the letter was penned by Israeli lawyer Noga Rubinstein on behalf of key media outlets, including Keshet 12, Reshet 13 and Channel 20, the channels Kan 11 News, Globes, Yediot Ahronot, Maariv, the Jerusalem Post, Ynet, Mako and Walla!, 99FM, 103FM and 104.5FM. They are demanding that Facebook step in to monitor and immediately remove threatening and dangerous posts on its website that are targeting journalists, editors and media group executives.
“In the last few weeks, journalists have become a target for incitement, which has put them in clear and present danger. There have been countless posts on Facebook calling for physical harm to Israeli journalists or labelling them as traitors or enemies of the state in a manner that encourages or justifies violent actions against them,” reads the letter.
“In a number of cases, the incitement even resulted in the deliberate attack of reporters and their staff while reporting from different events,” adds the letter.
Citing Facebook’s Community Standards, the attorney points out that under the social website’s own rules, such posts ought to be removed, and demands that Facebook takes immediate steps “to prevent incitement and inflammatory content from being distributed under the auspices of its platform.”
The letter says that if crimes occur in connection with these hateful posts, “Facebook must know that in its failure to act and take a stand against the incitement, it enables, if not encourages, such violent acts.”
Ultimately, these threats are also “extremely harmful for freedom of the press in a modern democratic society,” argues the letter.
A cease-fire between Israel and Gaza’s militant rulers, Hamas, went into effect on Friday (May 21) after 11 days of violence that killed 248 Palestinians and 12 Israelis. Amplified and sometimes distorted by social media, the conflict has led to a rise in racial violence within Israel and Palestine, as well as a surge in anti-Semitic incidents in several countries in Europe, as well as in the U.S.
During the conflict, an Israeli airstrike destroyed a building in Gaza City that housed The Associated Press and Al Jazeera, among other media outlets. The Israel Defense Forces said it gave an advanced warning for civilians to evacuate, according to the New York Times.