One month after it appeared, the Facebook page calling for a third Palestinian intifada was taken down Tuesday after the social network faced widespread condemnation and calls for its removal.
The page, titled “Third Palestinian Intifada,” originally claimed that after the “popular intifadas” in Tunisia and Egypt, it was time for a Palestinian intifada to take place on May 15 – the day Palestinians mourn Israel’s independence. The organizers called on Palestinians to attack Israeli settlements and asked Hezbollah to launch rockets at Israel with the ultimate goal of liberating Palestine. “Judgment Day will be brought upon us only once the Muslims have killed all of the Jews,” the call read. The page had more than 340,000 fans.
Logo for the “Third Palestinian Intifada” Facebook page
Israeli Minister of Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein had previously sent a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg requesting that the page be shut down. Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman also contacted the social network and asked it to “remove this site, which by it’s very title incites violence.”
Facebook originally issued no formal response to the letters, but refused to close down the page, stating it had not gone beyond the bounds of acceptable speech. In a recent e-mail statement, Facebook spokesman Debbie Frost said, “We strongly believe that Facebook users have the ability to express their opinions, and we don’t typically take down content, groups or Pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas.”
But according to Facebook rules, users cannot post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or incites violence, and removing offensive pages from Facebook is not unprecedented. The social network removed the “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” page last spring and the “Kill a Jew Day” page last summer, among others.
Facebook made the right choice in removing the page that called for violence against the Jewish people of Israel. One must wonder, however, why it took the social network one month to do so. As this blog previously pointed out, Facebook has a responsibility to proactively root out hate pages rather than wait for them to be reported, and then equivocate, before removing them, as is usually the case. Doing so would illustrate that Facebook supports each person’s right to life, no matter their race, religion, or nationality.