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Facebook and Israel Government Team Up To Tackle Terrorism On Social Media

By Bien R. Gruba III , Sep 13, 2016 05:50 PM EDT
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In an effort to take its social responsibility to the next level, social media giant Facebook has teamed up with the country of Israel to take down terrorism on social media which terrorist groups have used to radicalize and brainwash scores of Western individuals to join their cause.

Bloomberg reported that Facebook Inc.'s Joel Kaplan and Monika Bickert met with Israeli ministers in Tel Aviv on Monday. Kaplan is Facebook's vice president of U.S. public policy, while Bickert is the company's head of global policy management and counter-terrorism. The duo took to heart the message of the Israeli ministers who insisted that the social network must exert more effort to obliterate the incitement of terrorism and radicalization of individuals on its pages.

"The internet can't be allowed to become an incubator for terrorism," said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who joined the meeting with Kaplan and Bickert.

Based on a released statement from Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, many of the Palestinians arrested following attacks against Israelis in the past year admitted of having been influenced by content on Facebook and other online platforms such as Twitter and Youtube.

Both Facebook and the Israeli government agreed to create joint teams which will cooperate on how to best deal with internet incitement and radicalization.

Shaked said that Facebook and Israel share a common goal "especially during the week that commemorates Sept. 11, the event that changed the face of the United States."

According to a statement from the justice minister's office, in the past four months Facebook has already taken down 95 percent of content which has been flagged as offensive by Israeli officials, while Google's YouTube has removed 80 percent of such content.

"This is impressive, but we understand that the amount of online incitement is much greater and we must continue to increase our efforts," Shaked shared at a counterterrorism conference Monday in Herzliya.

The Jerusalem Post reported that a Facebook representative called the meeting constructive and said the delegation visited Israel "as part our ongoing dialogue with policy makers and experts around the world to keep terrorist content off our platform and support counter-speech initiatives."

The publication further explained that "Online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policy makers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world. We had constructive discussions about these important issues and look forward to a continued dialogue and cooperation," the representative stated.

The discussion with Israel came days after Facebook faced a firestorm of complaints when the company removed then reinstated the iconic "Napalm Girl" Vietnam War photo which apparently was first taken down because it violated Facebook's nudity guidelines.

The social media behemoth is seeking to find its footing to establish an acceptable universal standard for its 1.7 billion Facebook users which will balance between free speech and prudent censorship of content that is offensive or incites violence.

"A Facebook delegation visited Israel as part of our ongoing dialog with policymakers and experts around the world to keep terrorist content off our platform and support counterspeech initiatives," according to an e-mailed statement from the company sent to Bloomebrg.

"Facebook has zero tolerance for terrorism. We want people to feel safe when using Facebook," the statement added.

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