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Sunday, 30 August 2009

Why Does Facebook Allow Israel Hatred And Holocaust Denial?

How Many People On Facebook Hate Israel And Support Palestine???????

There are some things I simply refuse to understand.

During a week when an 18-year-old British woman has been sentenced to three months in a young offenders' institution for posting a death threat on Facebook, the social networking site's "Official Group for Israel Haters" is being allowed to continue to ply its noisome trade. Why?

Computer Active magazine reported that Keely Houghton, who pleaded guilty to a charge of harassment  against Emily Moore at Worcester Crown Court, was also banned from contacting her  for five years.

District Judge Bruce Morgan told  Houghton: “Since Emily Moore was 14 you have waged compelling threats and violent abuse towards her. Bullies are by their nature cowards, in school and society... On this day you did an act of gratuitous nastiness to satisfy your own twisted nature."

Emma Jane Cross, Chief Executive of the charity Beatbullying, said: "Cyber-bullying is a worrying and fast growing trend which can be more harmful than typical schoolyard bullying. "However, the solution is not to limit young people’s Internet access and phone usage. Instead, social networking sites like Facebook, along with the Government and charities like Beatbullying, must work together to tackle the real root of the problem, the bullying itself." More than a third of young people surveyed by the charity said that they had been bullied online.

I'm very naive so although I'm more than three times the age of these girls, I can't distinguish between 'personal' bullying and that against a country which comprises millions of people.

Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post has reported that Facebook "is violating its own terms and conditions on incitement to hatred", according to a statement released by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

"Facebook has through ignorance created an antisemitic policy platform where the only explicitly allowed hate is that, within certain parameters, directed against Jews ... despite the initial Terms of Use and Code of Conduct, Facebook has never been eager to play a proactive role in shaping an online culture against discrimination and hate," the document's author, Dr. Andre Oboler wrote.

He added: "Facebook's reluctance to take action unless pressured into it by the media ... has watered down the provisions against various types of hateful content and ... its promise to provide a 'safe place on the Internet.'"

Dr Oboler told The Jerusalem Post: "I hope that this will help Facebook realise that there is a serious issue." Late last year, the site was forced to reconsider its terms and conditions of use after receiving complaints from the Jewish Internet Defense Force and Christoph Gunkel, a German journalist.

The letter from the JIDF demanded that Facebook take offline five Holocaust-denial groups with names such as "Based on the facts... There was no Holocaust," "Holocaust: A series of Lies," and "Holocaust is a Myth."

Holocaust denial is illegal in 13 countries and banned in other countries under broader laws that prohibit racial vilification, but Facebook claims it is duty-bound to allow its users to upload such content in the name of "free speech." The complaints helped generate public interest in Holocaust denial on the site, and consequently Facebook made a raft of changes to its terms and conditions.

Previously, words that were defined as derogatory, demeaning, offensive, harmful, defamatory, abusive, inflammatory, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable were banned, but these strictures have now been deleted. The reference to local, regional and national laws has also vanished.

According to Dr Oboler's report: "In May 2009, Facebook went into damage control in response to the media interest in Holocaust-denial groups it hosted ... This occurred six months after Facebook was notified that such groups not only breached its Terms of Service but were illegal under national laws banning Holocaust denial in several countries."

"Unfortunately what Facebook did - combined with all these things that they've dropped - is a very big change in approach. Facebook was originally about providing a 'safe place on the Internet,' what with users having to register by school and be of a minimum age, but now it seems to be a site where anything goes," Oboler said.
"I really do hope that Facebook will reconsider the way in that they changed their approach. Holocaust denial is the tip of the iceberg, and while I would like them to recognise it as hate speech, their whole approach to offensive content should be reconsidered," he said, highlighting the 'massive reaction' to Holocaust denial on Facebook, as shown by the almost 85,000 people around the world who had joined a pressure group, United Against Holocaust Denial.

Facebook has rarely deleted groups and other pages that host material denying the Holocaust, but according to Dr Oboler: "Facebook as a private company does indeed have both the right and a moral obligation to remove this hateful content." Earlier this year, Facebook was "forced to take a stand on the Holocaust-denial issue," and became involved in "a lot of internal debate" following an assertion by Randi Zuckerberg, the site's marketing director ( sister of founder, Mark Zuckerberg), who said it was "Facebook's policy to not remove groups that deny the Holocaust."

Dr Oboler has warned elsewhere against "the use of online social networking and content collaboration to share demonisation, conspiracy theories, Holocaust denial, and classical antisemitic motifs with a view to creating social acceptability for such content."

Dr Oboler also noted  Facebook's relative - perhaps strange (my word - niw) - zealousness in removing pictures of breast-feeding mothers earlier this year, while leaving content denying the Holocaust online.

The situation regarding increasing anti-Jewish hatred on the site becomes increasingly weird as we ponder on the fact that two of its three co-founders,  Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz are both Jewish. Stretching my native naive incredulity to its limits, I must assume that as Harvard University graduates, either they perform amazing intellectual gymnastics in order not to appear partial or they both belong to that ever-growing crowd of self-hating Jews. But now, of course, I'm just being silly ...

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