Facebook to let the Israelis help censor your news feed

IsraelThe social notworking outfit DeFacebook has decided to allow the Israeli government to help censor news feeds to make sure that people do not get the wrong idea about the way it handles the Palestinians.

A senior Israeli Cabinet minister said that it had agreed with Facebook how to tackle “incitement” on the social media network.

For those who came in late, if you think that the Israel government’s approach to the Palestinians is a little heavy handed and you make a post saying something like that, you are apparently inciting the Palestinians to revolt. Who would have thunk it?

The Israelis are pressing ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence and  two government ministers met top Facebook officials to discuss the matter.

Israel claims that most of the problems in Palestine are not caused by it making life hell on toast for occupants, raiding and demolishing buildings looking for terrorists, or building a bloody big wall to keep them out, but because of social media. Which is odd because this problem was around before social media became a thing.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, two key figures in Israel’s battle against the “online provocations”, participated in Monday’s meeting.

Erdan’s office said they agreed with Facebook representatives to create teams that would figure out how best to monitor and remove inflammatory content, but did not elaborate further.

If Facebook does not do what it is told then Erdan and Shaked have proposed legislation that seeks to force social networks to remove content that Israel considers to be incitement.

In a statement, Facebook said “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.”

The social media company also said its community standards “make it clear there is no place for terrorists or content that promotes terrorism on Facebook.” It called the meeting “constructive,” but offered no details about its conclusions.

The plan is that the Israeli security authorities will monitor for incitement, and then complain to Facebook. The company determines whether the material in question violates its community standards, removing some items but allowing others to stay.

Shaked said Monday that over the past four months Israel submitted 158 requests to Facebook to remove inciting content and another 13 requests to YouTube. She said Facebook granted some 95 percent of the requests and YouTube granted 80 percent.