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Attorney Sues Facebook over Palestinian Incitement


JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli forces raided a Palestinian radio station this week over claims it was inciting violence in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). The wave of violence is prompting other creative ways to stop the incitement.

October was a rough month in Israel. Palestinians carried out some 65 attacks that killed 11 and injured nearly 150 people. And most believe the terror is likely to continue.

"You actually can see that in the last month were tens of thousands of posts telling people to go out and kill Jews, teaching them how to stab, how to twist the knife, where exactly in the body should be the stabbing," attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner from the Shurat HaDin Law Firm told CBN News.

That type of incitement led the Israel Defense Forces to confiscate equipment at the al Hurria station in Hebron.

But it's social media that Israeli leaders blame most for spreading hatred against Jews and encouraging terrorism.

"It goes over all the West Bank, all through the Arab population in Israel," Darshan-Leitner explained. "It's not limited to one group or another and it connects all the people that want to kill with the people who can teach them how to kill."

As an attorney, Darshan-Leitner is doing something about it. She filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 20,000 Israelis against Facebook in New York.

"The lawsuit asks for an injunction against Facebook. It's not a monetary suit," she continued. "The injunction is for two things: first that they will take down these posts of incitement, these videos that call to kill Jews, but also to monitor it yourself, to be proactive, to go and detect those posts by itself."

According to Darshan-Leitner, Facebook has logorithms that could help find the hateful material and take it down.

"[The] same way that they can detect pornography and not let it be put up. They should do the same thing with the incitement," she said. "The same way they know which coffee I drink in the morning, which gym I'm going to, to push me ads and to connect me with my friends and to push groups that have the same interest as I do."

In an email response to CBN News, a Facebook spokesperson said, "We want people to feel safe when using Facebook. There is no place for content encouraging violence, direct threats,  terrorism or hate speech on Facebook. As a community of nearly 1.5 billion people, we have a set of community standards to help people understand what is allowed on Facebook and we urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate and take swift action."

But Darshan-Leitner told CBN News it's against the law to provide services to a terrorist organization.

"If you are a bank, you are not allowed to provide [a] bank account to a terror organization," she explained. "Why is Facebook allowed to provide this service to a terrorist organization?"

In another social media attack, someone hacked the Twitter account of the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, sending threatening tweets for about 20 minutes.

"This is another aspect of how the Palestinian elements, whether they are the terrorist groups or their supporters, can use the social networks telegram application, which has become very popular in order to promote the message," Internet security expert Tal Pavel explained. "Whether it's a message that promote[s] violence or disinformation and to raise the voice of their side."

Darshan-Leitner said it would take months before her case would be heard, but she's seen signs that Facebook may make changes.

"We already saw Facebook taking down posts that people alert(ed) them to – the same post that Facebook refused to touch before the lawsuit  – are taking down one by one within an hour," she said. "And Facebook is taking down pages of terror organizations – like Hamas, that from the beginning should not be put on."

Darshan-Leitner says they started with Facebook because it's the most widely used social media by Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. After this, she plans to pursue other outlets, such as YouTube and Twitter.

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