Free speech rights vs. violent content
Israeli government advances a “Facebook Law” against incitement
Israeli courts could demand that companies such as Facebook Inc. remove content deemed as incitement, under a bill that will head for parliamentary approval amid concerns about free speech.
The law would give Israel the tools “to have content liable to lead to murder and terror removed immediately,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said via text message after an Israeli ministerial committee approved the bill Sunday.
Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have continued pushing the bill even after Facebook agreed in a September meeting to create joint teams to deal with internet incitement. Israel’s Cabinet said Sunday it would discuss even tougher measures against violent content on the web, without indicating what those measures might be.
The internet giants aren’t ignoring the problem: Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube said this month they were creating a shared database to help enforce policies against online terrorist content. After the September meeting in Israel, Facebook said it has “zero toler- ance for terrorism.”
Facebook said Sunday it works “aggressively” to remove problematic content “as soon as we become aware of it.” The company said it hopes to continue a “constructive dialogue” with Israel that includes “careful consideration of the implications of this bill for Israeli democracy, freedom of speech, the open internet and the dynamism of the Israeli internet sector.”
Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler, head of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Center for Democratic Values and Institutions, called the bill “an assault on freedom of expression on an international scale.” Compared with similar legislation in other countries, the Israeli bill would hold content providers such as Facebook and Google parent Alphabet Inc. to a much higher level of responsibility, Shwartz Altshuler said. “The ‘Facebook Bill’ needs to be substantially revised,” she said.
After attackers opened fire in December 2015 in San Bernardino, Calif., killing 14 people and wounding 22, President Barack Obama asked Silicon Valley firms to work with law enforcement to prevent terrorists from using social media and encryption technologies to encourage violence.
Fake news story sets off Israel-Pakistan Twitter feud. A fake news story has
touched off a tense Twitter confrontation between nuclear power Pakistan and Israel, widely believed to have a nuclear arsenal of its own, in an episode that underlines the potentially harmful impact of such stories in sensitive global affairs
In an apparent response to a fake story claiming Israel’s former defense minister threatened a nuclear attack against Pakistan if it sends troops to Syria, Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, reminded Israel that “Pakistan is a nuclear state too.”
Israel’s Defense Ministry tweeted back Saturday, saying the original story on the site AWD News was “totally fictitious.”
AWD has been identified by fact-checking organizations as a fake news site.
Israel maintains a policy of nuclear ambiguity, neither confirming nor denying the existence of an arsenal. Pakistan became a nuclear power in 1998. The countries have no diplomatic ties.
There was no immediate reaction from Pakistan to Israel’s response.