Facebook Inc. said it took down a page promoting a new Palestinian intifada against Israel because it made “direct calls for violence,” in violation of policies set forth by the social-networking site.
The administrators of the page, which Israeli officials had asked to be taken down earlier this month, initially removed comments that promoted violence, Debbie Frost, a spokeswoman for Facebook, said in an e-mail. The page’s administrators themselves later joined in the calls for violence, she said.
“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,” Frost said. “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 move spotlights the challenge facing Palo Alto, California-based Facebook as it becomes a forum for political activism and social movements worldwide. The site, along with Twitter Inc. and Google Inc.’s YouTube, took center stage in uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain and Libya -- with organizers using them to spread news and coordinate protests.
The page calling for a new intifada -- an Arabic word meaning uprising -- was removed after administrators received repeated warnings about posts that violated Facebook policies, the company said. The first Palestinian intifada began in 1987, marked by rioting and rock throwing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- two disputed territories captured by Israel in 1967. The second intifada, which erupted in 2000, spread to cities across Israel.
Facebook also is removing copycat pages on the same topic, the company said. Contact information for the original page’s administrators couldn’t be found.
The site included remarks and video clips that called for the killing of Israelis and Jews, as well as the “liberating” of Jerusalem and Palestine through acts of violence, said Israel Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Minister Yuli Edelstein.
“The news that the page has been removed demonstrates that the heads of Facebook understood that the page constitutes blatant misuse of freedom of speech for the purpose of wild incitement to violence,” Edelstein said.