Op-Ed via Global Voices

Israel Advances New ‘Facebook Bill’, Threatening Free Speech

The Israeli Knesset passed last week a first reading of a controversial new bill that would allow Israeli courts to order social media companies to remove online content it deems “inciting”.

The “removal of criminally offensive content from the internet”, colloquially known as the “Facebook bill”, allows Israeli administrative courts, at the request of government, to issue orders demanding social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter remove online content considered as incitement to violence. The bill has to go through two more rounds of approval by the Israeli Knesset before it becomes a law.

Facebook's Community Standards already explicitly prohibit incitement to violence, although there is evidence that the company struggles to enforce this policy evenly across the globe. In addition, the Israeli government has indicated that it already works with Facebook to monitor “inciting” posts. In 2016, a delegation from the US-based social media giant met with representatives from the Israeli government, and both parties agreed to work together to monitor “incitement” on the platform. It remains unclear whether or how a change in Israeli legislation would affect Facebook's processes regarding content in Israel.

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