Facebook delegation meets with Israeli officials to discuss online incitement

A delegation of senior Facebook officials have arrived in Israel for a series of meetings with government representatives and civil servants to discuss the issue of incitement to terror on the social media platform.

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy and counter-terrorism and Joel Kaplan, vice president of Global Public Policy and a former deputy chief of staff for policy at the White House, are heading the delegation, according to the report.

Israeli officials have slammed Facebook for allowing online incitement that leads to terror activities.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the Facebook delegation’s visit to Israel at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday.

“The aim is to increase cooperation against incitement, incitement to terror and murder on social networks,” he said. “Terror groups use the internet to hurt humanity. We are determined to fight this phenomenon so I welcome this cooperation, or at least the willingness to cooperate, that Facebook is demonstrating which we hope will yield better results.”

Facebook has come under increasing pressure from Israeli politicians and officials for the type of content it allows on its platform.

Israel’s justice and internal security ministers recently announced plans to propose legislation banning the use of Facebook to advance terror and outlawing incitement from the Internet.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said instructed their respective ministries and the police to draft a new bill for removing terror content from the internet and social media.

Shaked and Erdan said the legislation would aim to make it illegal to publish “offensive content” such as “encouraging terror attacks, shaming, insulting public officials and slandering”.

The principles of the bill would be that the state would issue a warning letter to internet, domain name and social media providers who can potentially remove the content as site administrators.

If the providers, such as such as Facebook and Google, remove the terror content there would be no further action.

If they do not remove the content, the bill would allow the state to request the courts to order the providers to remove the content within 24 hours, as Facebook does in the European Union, said the statement.

This would be backed by a law that blocks content inciting “terror” and ensures its “complete removal, similar to laws in Australia and France”.

Israel maintains that online content has played a significant role in fueling a wave of Palestinian attacks that broke out in October 2015.

The ministers said that “in the latest wave of terror there has been a direct link between online incitement and the so-called ‘lone wolf terror’ attacks.”