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Microsoft yanks site containing violent threats

The company pulls a Web page off its MSN portal that called for the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and other officials.

Microsoft's MSN today pulled a Web page that called for the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and other officials at this week's Middle East peace talks at Camp David.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said they faxed a letter to Microsoft yesterday pointing out the page posted on the portal's popular online community, a network of personal Web pages. The site, created by an unknown organization called the Israel Liberation Army, described Barak as "a traitor" and called for his execution.

"Someone MUST execute him and any future PM who negotiates with our death enemies," the site read.

Hundreds of hate sites plague the Internet, but many companies that host personal Web pages require members to agree to a code of ethics. Microsoft, for example, does not allow illegal activities to take place. Its policy stipulates that members "cannot use the Communication Services to publish, post, distribute or disseminate defamatory, infringing, obscene or other unlawful material or information."

Microsoft removed the page after determining its content violated the policy. Microsoft told the ADL, an 87-year-old anti-hate group, that the site will no longer appear on its service.

"We are pleased that Microsoft responded immediately to our concerns about this Web page," Abraham H. Foxman, the organization's national director, said in a statement.

"Unfortunately it is part of a growing trend of incendiary rhetoric around the world. Microsoft has responded appropriately by denying these hate-mongers a platform," Foxman said.

Foxman said he believes that an isolated individual or group of individuals created the site to derail the peace process through threats of violence.