Jewish Journal


May 20, 2009

Facebook and the Jews



From a Facebook group

It’s inevitable that social-networking sites will be meeting places for not only old classmates and work colleagues and new friends but also hatemongers looking for fellow travelers. But what’s going on with Facebook?

On Monday, Israel’s domestic intelligence agency warned, in the words of my friend Darrell, “Jews beware, terrorist trickery on Facebook.” The Shin Bet reported that they had received numerous reports of terror groups using Facebook and other social networking sites to approach Israelis and possibly try to kidnap them.

This followed a report last week from the Simon Wiesenthal Center of a 25 percent increase in “problematic” social networking. Via Reuters:

The report was based on “over 10,000 problematic Web sites, social networking groups, portals, blogs, chat rooms, videos and hate games on the Internet which promote racial violence, anti-semitism, homophobia, hate music and terrorism.”

“Every aspect of the Internet is being used by extremists of every ilk to repackage old hatred, demean the ‘Enemy,’ to raise funds and since 9/11, recruit and train Jihadist terrorists,” the Center said in a statement.

Examples of what the report calls “digital terrorism and hate” range from a Facebook group named “Death to gays” in Croatian to a YouTube video of a Koran being burned and various Web sites promoting militant groups such as Hezbollah, the Taliban, al Qaeda and Colombia’s FARC.

The Wiesenthal Center’s report was included in a recent Congressional briefing titled “Hate in the Information Age,” and inspired this post from Sam Gliksman, who writes the Chai Tech blog:

How bad is it? A quick look at the page of one group called “We hate Israel” gives you an idea of what can still pass uncensored on Facebook. The main page contains the image of a large swastika made from the letters in the word Israel. There’s a poster of the Twin Towers on fire with a large caption stating “The Jews. We all know it was them.“ The group blog is littered with posts such as “Kill all Israel people!!!“, “Death to Israel!“ and “Hitler took the (right) decision with the Jewish people. They must all be burned at the same time”. Other posts threaten that there will be a strike in October that will wipe out all of Israel. Companies such as Disney and Pepsi are accused of being Zionist (it’s claimed that Pepsi derived its name as an acronym from “Pay Every Penny to Save Israel”!). Yes, even Facebook - the company that is allowing the group to spread this vicious anti-Semitic dribble - is supposedly “owned by a Zionist”!

That would be Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard dropout who created Facebook. And, to be sure, the site’s terms of service dictate “You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence” and “You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.“

But Gliksman writes:

Inexplicably however, it seems that extremists espousing hatred or threatening violence towards Jews and Israel fall under their radar.

In fact, there are over 500 groups that include “we hate Israel” in their name or description. The photo above is from one of them.

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