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Facebook sanctions Netanyahu’s official page over hate speech

Media Analysis
on 15 Comments

Following outrage over a message on his official Facebook page telling voters “Arabs want to annihilate us all,” Facebook has suspended the chatbot feature of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s page.

According to reports, the message was suspended over its violations of Facebook’s hate speech codes.

The suspension was reportedly put in place for 24 hours, starting at 10:30am local time Thursday.

“After careful review of the Likud campaign’s bot activities, we found a violation of our hate speech policy,” Facebook said in a statement.

The social network added that “should there be any additional violations, we will continue to take appropriate action.”

Reports surfaced on Wednesday that upon accessing Netanyahu’s official page, viewers were being greeted with an automated popup message, generated by a chatbot, with a message to voters imploring them to “make sure” their friends and family vote Likud.

“A secular left-wing weak government that relies on Arabs who want to destroy us all – women, children and men, and will enable a nuclear Iran that will eliminate us,” the message read, saying “we cannot allow this to happen!”

The Facebook message came on the heels of several anti-Arab comments made by Netanyahu and his campaign in an effort to draw right-wing supporters to the polls.

The premiere has repeatedly referred to Palestinians as a “threat” to the right-wing government and the Jewish character of the state, and campaign ads targeting “Anglo” voters.

Critics have accused the premiere of race-baiting ahead of the hotly contested elections, which are set to be held on September 17th.

On Friday, Netanyahu made comments insinuating that his government could launch an offensive on the besieged Gaza Strip “at any moment.”

“An operation in Gaza could happen at any moment, including four days before the elections. The date of the elections does not factor [into a decision to go to war],” the Times of Israel quoted Netanyahu as saying.

According to the latest polls, reported by Haaretz on Friday, the Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid is projected to win 33 seats, compared to Netanyahu’s Likud with with 31 seats. Other polls show Netanyahu with a lead, including one reported in Maariv which gives Likud a considerable advantage over Blue White, 36 seats to 32.

Yumna Patel

Yumna Patel is the Palestine correspondent for Mondoweiss.

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15 Responses

  1. DaBakr on September 14, 2019, 12:15 am

    The block quotes around ‘Arabs want to annihilate us all ‘ do not belong there because that statement was never made. The actual statement is further down in the piece -or -on Netanyahus page. Just saying, as I’ve been called out on incorrect block quotes a few times here.

    • annie on September 14, 2019, 2:42 am

      “Arabs want to annihilate us all – women, children and men” – that is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new message to voters, which appears through an automated popup message that appears on the screen of anybody accessing his official Facebook page.

      https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium-netanyahu-s-new-election-message-arabs-want-to-annihilate-us-all-1.7832283

      • DaBakr on September 14, 2019, 2:51 pm

        @a

        So, it’s a block quote of an inferred by-line from Haaretz. I guess. Not saying it twisted anything, just not a quote

      • Mooser on September 14, 2019, 4:45 pm

        “just not a quote” “Dabakr”

        “Arabs want to annihilate us all – women, children and men” – that is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new message to voters, which appears through an automated popup message that appears on the screen of anybody accessing his official Facebook page.

        It don’t get much quotier than that, “Dabakr”

      • annie on September 14, 2019, 6:08 pm

        dabkr, since the automated popup message has been suspended by facebook, are we supposed to believe you it was never there? is that your point? that haaretz just decided to place quotemarks around some words for the heck of it?

      • DaBakr on September 15, 2019, 11:14 pm

        @a

        Yes. Haaretz used single quotes around the comment with “annihilate” in it that was referring to a similar statement, same intent but not as inflammatory or at least less the,annihilate’.’ I wouldn’t bother to lie about such a small detail unless I was surrounded by nit pickers which…… Just saying, sometimes….

      • Abe Bird on September 16, 2019, 6:45 am

        The fact is that many Arabs say it now and in the past. But it’s not a “political correctness” to reveal it to the public.

      • annie on September 19, 2019, 12:38 am

        Haaretz used single quotes around the comment with “annihilate” in it that was referring to a similar statement

        no, they did not. they used double quotes in the article, exactly how i copy pasted it above. the only place in the article single quotes were used was in the headline, which is a normal editorial standard (mondoweiss uses the same editorial standard, we do not use double quotes in headlines, ever*).

        I wouldn’t bother to lie about such a small detail unless I was surrounded by nit pickers which…… Just saying, sometimes….

        i think it’s you who’s nitpicking. and “I wouldn’t bother to lie” is not a counter argument. it’s basically a “trust me i’m right” argument. if you’re going to challenge a direct quote from haaretz, you’ll need some source. a screenshot, a link, something. thus far, all you have is a nitpicky claim. .. from someone who doesn’t even know the common practice of using only single quotes in headlines. #fail.

        Abe, placing “the fact” in front of your comment doesn’t make it any more true or relevant than replacing “many Arabs” with “many Jews”. — just saying.

        *here’s just one example, and i could find hundreds of others: https://mondoweiss.net/2017/03/annexation-immediate-lieberman/

        to counter this, find one mondoweiss headline using double quotes. you can’t because MW doesn’t do it. my hunch is, neither does haaretz. to imagine double quotes in an article are inferred from single quotes in a byline or headline is ridiculous.

      • annie on September 19, 2019, 12:54 am

        https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/punctuation/rules-for-using-single-quotation-marks.html
        “Rules For Using Single Quotation Marks”

        In a headline single quotation marks are used in place of the standard double quotation marks. So, if the headline includes the title of a song, short story, or a quotation, you would use single quotation marks. Generally, you’ll see this used when the headline is in reference to something someone said.

      • Sibiriak on September 19, 2019, 1:49 am

        Mooser: “Arabs want to annihilate us all – women, children and men” – that is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s new message to voters, which appears through an automated popup message that appears on the screen of anybody accessing his official Facebook page.

        It don’t get much quotier than that, “Dabakr”
        ————————————————————————-

        Actually, it could be slightly more quotier if it was in the original Hebrew. From the MW article above:

        Reports surfaced on Wednesday that upon accessing Netanyahu’s official page, viewers were being greeted with an automated popup message, generated by a chatbot, with a message to voters imploring them to “make sure” their friends and family vote Likud.

        A secular left-wing weak government that relies on Arabs who want to destroy us all – women, children and men, and will enable a nuclear Iran that will eliminate us,” the message read, saying “we cannot allow this to happen!”

        So whether it’s “annihilate” or “destroy” is a matter of translation– but doesn’t change the hate-mongering, race-baiting, anti-Arab nature of the statement at all.

    • Misterioso on September 14, 2019, 9:43 am

      @DaBakr

      Meanwhile, Israel descends ever faster and deeper into the pit of fascism.

      “Israel’s Right Wing Is Worse Than Europe’s” by Zeev Sternhell, Haaretz, July 19/19

      EXCERPT:
      “From the end of the 19th century, radical, anti-liberal nationalism – after serving as a basis for fascism throughout Europe and Nazism in Germany, and despite calling itself an ideology of national unity – essentially became an ideology of civil war. Hostility toward different categories of citizens, not just ethnic minorities but ideological adversaries, became a primary tool of nationalists. So it was in the past and so it is today in countries where vicious nationalism rules: From ostensibly democratic India, which abuses its minorities, to Poland and Hungary, to Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel, which is consciously moving toward becoming an apartheid state.

      “In truth, the Israeli right, which maintains the settlements with their racist, backward rabbis, is much worse that the European nationalist right, which is wary of displaying open racism and anti-Semitism, lest it be accused of fostering an ideology akin to Nazism. Here we have no such problem because hey, we’re all Jews, and who would dare accuse a Jew of approximating the kind of Nazi ideology that preceded World War II?…”

    • Marnie on September 15, 2019, 1:35 pm

      Hate speech from leaders of so-called democracies has become so commonplace that it doesn’t shock people like it would have 5 or more years ago. americans and israelis are almost numb to the constant hateful, xenophobic and inciting remarks by their elected officials, Netanyahoo and 45 are the same, arrogant, gross, greedy, racist and completely corrupt criminals and will be held accountable for every tweet they’ve ever made. They, and their horrid adult spawn, should spend the rest of their horrible lives on gitmo.

      • DaBakr on September 15, 2019, 11:17 pm

        @m

        I won’t argue with you but you didn’t mention the hate speech coming from hamas, PLO, fatah, and other anti Israel Arab leaders, scholars, imams, etc. all around the ME

      • Marnie on September 16, 2019, 12:18 am

        @dab –
        I commented on what I’ve actually read for myself. Being anti-israel/anti-u.s. doesn’t automatically qualify as hate speech; however. And I know there is hate speech coming from all sorts of places.

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