Facebook Defends Anti-Semitic Postings as Free Speech

Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 10:44 AM

By Joel Himelfarb

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Facebook has said that a page calling for the death of Israeli Jews does not violate its “community standards,” the Washington Examiner reported Monday.

The social networking site responded to user complaints about a page entitled, “Death to zionst baby killer israeli jews” (sic). The page, which started on Friday, featured an image depicting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a vampire, his chin dripping with blood, feasting on a child.

Individuals complaining about the page received a message that read:

“We reviewed your report of Death to zionst baby killer israeli jews. Thank you for taking the time to report something that you feel may violate our Community Standards. Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment. We reviewed the Page you reported for containing hate speech or symbols and found it doesn't violate our Community Standards.”

Another controversy involving Facebook and anti-Semitism exploded into view last week, when a French Jewish activist whose address was published in online anti-Israel forums was ambushed at his home near Paris by a group of masked men carrying iron bars. The victim’s name appeared last week on a Facebook page with names and photographs of 32 people, including some of their addresses.

The page, entitled “Jeunes Revolutionnaires Francais” (Young French Revolutionaries), had close to 2,000 followers and more than 1,500 “likes.” Although it was  taken down Friday night, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported Sunday that it found a cached version of the Facebook page with a caption entitled,  “Smile, you’re on camera,” containing  the pictures and other information.

The ugly Facebook postings occur at a time when thousands of police have been deployed at locations around Europe to prevent violent demonstrations over Israel’s military operation in Gaza. 

In France, “Protesters have attacked synagogues, smashed the windows of Jewish-owned business and torched others, in scenes disturbingly reminiscent of the1938 Kristallnacht,” according to the London Telegraph, referring a notorious Nazi rampage against Jewish businesses. “The marchers have chanted ‘Jews to the gas chambers,’ and Jewish people have been attacked on the streets of Berlin.”

The latest controversies occur just over a year after Facebook official promised to do a better job of detecting and removing hate speech, announcing that the company would update training for staffers responsible for policing such comments. The social network made that promise after feminist groups protested pages with titles that included: “Violently Raping Your Friend Just For Laughs” and “Raping Your Girlfriend.”

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