TEL AVIV – A new bill proposing fines for social media sites that do not remove terror-promoting content received the Israeli government’s approval on Sunday, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill authored by MK Revital Swid (Zionist Union) giving social media providers, including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter, 48 hours to remove inciting content.
Social media platforms that neglect to remove incitement will be fined NIS 300,000 ($78,000) per post. If it emerges that the site was aware of the post, for example, if it was quoted in major news outlets, but still did not remove it, the fine will be increased to NIS 400,000.
The legislation classifies terror-inciting posts as those that “appear to be a call to commit an act of terror or encouraging acts of terror, and according to the content of the inciting post and the circumstances in which it was published, there is a real possibility that it will lead to acts of terror being committed. It is irrelevant whether the publication actually led to an act of terrorism or not.”
Swid noted that Facebook in Europe began automatically removing incitement following recent terrorist attacks in the continent, but the social media giant does not do the same for Israel, despite repeated requests to its executives.
MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) said, “Facebook is supposed to connect people, but unfortunately, these connections often create expressions of hatred and even incitement to murder,” and added that it has a double standard when threats to Israelis are concerned.
“More than once, before terrorist attacks, calls to murder Jews and posts encouraging acts of terror were found,” the bill reads.
Among these include texts calling to turn into martyrs and videos with specific instructions that detail and show how to murder. Among the videos were those of imams in mosques inciting in their sermons to murder and commit acts of terrorism, and videos on how to choose a knife, sharpen it, and wave it, and some showing the best places to stab a victim.
Following a $1 billion class-action suit filed against Facebook by American victims of Hamas terror, Israel’s Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan proposed another bill for the forced removal of terror-inciting content from social media platforms.
In the event that terror-enabling content is not removed at the request of the state, the court will order social media providers to do so without necessarily giving notice. Cases of incitement will be given the same consideration as child pornography in that concerns relating to freedom of speech will be disregarded.
Shaked and Erdan’s bill will be combined with Swid’s, the report said. Once this happens, lawmakers said they will strike the correct balance between protecting the country’s citizens from terror and protecting freedom of expression.
Earlier this month, Erdan said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has “blood on his hands” following a terror attack.