TEL AVIV – Israel will take legal measures against Internet giants like Facebook and Google if they do not start controlling anti-Israel “incitement,” the country’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Sunday.
“Social media companies are happy to use the data they collect on all of us to make money, but unfortunately not to help stop terror,” Erdan said.
The minister, who was addressing the Jerusalem Post‘s annual conference in New York, also said that Israel has developed a system for identifying “lone wolf attackers” – the term used for Palestinian terrorists who commit acts of violence of their own accord – via their social media feeds.
Erdan delineated the challenges in dealing with anti-Israel incitement on the internet, but said that Palestinian society has always used whatever tools it has at its disposal to spread hatred.
“For many years we have seen that this incitement is also widespread in Palestinian schools, universities, and official media channels,” he said.
“This incitement glorifies terror and encourages violence, even teaching children as young as kindergarten to stab Jews.”
“As a human being and a father of four, I am sickened at the thought of children being taught violence, not peace; to hate, not to love,” he added.
The minister blamed social media for fueling the recent upsurge in Palestinian violence.
“These companies must recognize that their platforms are used as a tool of terror,” Erdan told the JPost conference. “I call on Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and their colleagues to take the initiative to monitor and remove this incitement on their own. If they refuse and continue to ignore their role in promoting incitement, governments must pass legislation forcing them to do so.”
“Today they are part of the problem. They must become part of the solution,” he added.
Erdan said the Israeli government is taking steps to curb incitement on social media, claiming that such measures have contributed to the drop in violent attacks in recent weeks.
“We are making progress in combating this wave of violence and incitement,” Erdan said. “We have developed systems to identify potential lone-wolf terrorists from their social media posts, we increased the number of police officers in Jerusalem to enhance both prevention and deterrence, and we outlawed Islamist groups who are inciting violence, such as the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement.”