Facebook removed a page calling for a third Palestinian uprising against Israel after a month of protests by Israel supporters.
"Third Palestinian Intifada," established on Facebook less than a month ago, called for a third Palestinian uprising to begin May 15. The page, which as of March 27 had more than 330,000 friends, included quotes and film clips calling for killing Jews and Israelis, and for "liberating" Jerusalem and Palestine using violence. It also directed users to related content on Twitter, YouTube and elsewhere.
Facebook said the page began as a call for peaceful protest, even though it used the term "intifada," which has been associated with violence in the past, according to The Associated Press.
"However, after the publicity of the page, more comments deteriorated to direct calls for violence," Andrew Noyes, Facebook's public policy communications manager, told the AP. He said the creators of the page eventually made calls for violence as well. "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."
Earlier, Facebook had said it would monitor the page but not remove it. In a statement released to several media outlets, Facebook commented on the Third Palestinian Intifada page controversy.
“While some kinds of comments and content may be upsetting for someone—criticism of a certain culture, country, religion, lifestyle, or political ideology, for example—that alone is not a reason to remove the discussion," the statement said. "We strongly believe that Facebook users have the ability to express their opinions, and we don’t typically take down content, groups or Pages that speak out against countries, religions, political entities, or ideas.”
Individual posts and comments on the page that are considered problematic are being investigated by Facebook and removed, according to reports.
An Israeli government minister and the head of the Anti-Defamation League have called for the removal of the page.
"This Facebook page constitutes an appalling abuse of technology to promote terrorist violence,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL's national director. “Although the managers of this group claim to be calling for peaceful demonstrations, the Third Intifada pages include calls for followers to build on the previous two intifadas. We should not be so naive to believe that a campaign for a ‘Third Intifada’ does not portend renewed violence, especially in the current climate that has seen a dramatic increase in rocket attacks from Gaza, the brutal murder of the Fogel family in the West Bank, and a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem.”
Yuli Edelstein, Israel's minister of diplomacy and Diaspora affairs, in a letter sent March 23 to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg called his attention to the page and asked that it be removed.
"As Facebook's CEO and founder, you are obviously aware of the site's great potential to rally the masses around good causes, and we are all thankful for that," Edelstein wrote. "However, such potential comes hand in hand with the ability to cause great harm, such as in the case of the wild incitement displayed on the above-mentioned page."