Facebook takes down Palestinian intifada page

Facebook has removed from its site a page calling for a Palestinian intifada, following a request from Israel's minister of public diplomacy. New pages, though, appear to have taken its place.

Facebook

A Facebook page called the Third Palestinian Intifada has been removed from the site following a request from the Israeli government.

Yuli Edelstein, Israel's minister of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs, sent a letter directly to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on March 23. In the letter, which has been posted on the Web site The Jerusalem Gift Shop, Edelstein asked the company to take down the page calling for a third intifada, translated by some as violent uprising, to begin against Israel on May 15.

Pointing to remarks and movie clips on the page calling for the killing of Israelis and Jews and the liberation of Palestine through violence, Edelstein expressed concern over the "wild incitement" that could be caused by the page, which had collected more than 230,000 friends at the time he wrote the letter.

On Friday, the Anti-Defamation League also asked Facebook to remove the page, labeling it "an appalling abuse of technology to promote terrorist violence" with "inflammatory anti-Israel language calling for supporters to build on the previous two intifadas."

From its initial response, Facebook appeared reluctant to take action.

"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," Facebook spokeswoman Debbie Frost said in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg.

But as of today Facebook had removed the Third Palestinian Intifada page. Explaining its decision, a Facebook spokesman e-mailed CNET the following statement:

The Page, The Third Palestinian Intifada, began as a call for peaceful protest, even though it used a term that has been associated with violence in the past. In addition, the administrators initially removed comments that promoted violence. However, after the publicity of the Page, more comments deteriorated to direct calls for violence. Eventually, the administrators also participated in these calls. After administrators of the page received repeated warnings about posts that violated our policies, we removed the Page.

Facebook added that it continues to "believe that people on Facebook should be able to express their opinions, and we don't typically take down content that speaks out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas. However, we monitor Pages that are reported to us and when they degrade to direct calls for violence or expressions of hate--as occurred in this case--we have and will continue to take them down."

Saying that it welcomed the decision to take down the page, the Anti-Defamation League asked Facebook to "vigilantly monitor their pages for other groups that call for violence or terrorism against Jews and Israel."

Since the removal of the page, new ones have been created to replace it. Though the number of friends is small so far compared with the original, the new pages appear to mimic the first one with further calls in both English and Arabic for a new intifada.

Literally translated as "shaking off," the word intifada is more commonly translated as "revolution" or "uprising." Palestinians have staged two intifadas, according to CNN, one that began in 1987 and another that started in 2000. During the second intifada, thousands of Israelis and Palestinians died, CNN said.

 

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