A fan page posted on the social networking site ‘Facebook’ by radical Palestinian groups has been deleted after the World Jewish Congress and others called for its removal. The page, which was mostly in Arabic, called for terror attacks against Israel from the West Bank and Lebanon. It had garnered more than 350,000 "likes" over the course of the past month. ‘Facebook’ initially refused to remove the page, citing freedom of speech. However, on Tuesday, the company acted following pressure by Israel and organizations such as the WJC, and put the page down. "The page... began as a call for peaceful protest, even though it used a term that has been associated with violence in the past. In addition, the administrators initially removed comments that promoted violence," 'Facebook' said in a statement.
The firm added: "However, after the publicity of the page, more comments deteriorated to direct calls for violence. Eventually, the administrators also participated in these calls. After administrators of the page received repeated warnings about posts that violated our policies, we removed the page. We continue to believe that people on 'Facebook' should be able to express their opinions, and we don't typically take down content that speaks out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas. However, we monitor pages that are reported to us and when they degrade to direct calls for violence or expressions of hate -- as occurred in this case -- we have and will continue to take them down."
The page's removal follows heavy criticism that 'Facebook' was ignoring its own terms-of-service guidelines, which prohibit the posting of content that is "hateful, threatening, or... incites violence." Yuli Edelstein, Israel's minister of public diplomacy and diaspora affairs, said in a statement that the removal of the page showed that "Facebook management understood that the page is a blunt abuse of freedom of speech to incite to violent actions."