Facebook and Twitter shut down Hamas pages after months of criticism

Facebook's logo. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) Facebook and Twitter have been shutting down pages managed by the Hamas terror group after months of criticism that the social media networks had been enabling incitement to violence against Israelis.

Facebook recently shut down Hamas’s official page, a page titled “Shihab” that is affiliated with the Palestinian terror group and had about 1 million followers, and a number of other violence-supporting Palestinian pages.

Twitter, meanwhile, shut down the Hamas military wing's official pages in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, as well as the account of Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida, which had 156,000 followers. Hamas has responded by opening new accounts to replace those that were shut down, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

Facebook and Twitter received heavy criticism from Jewish and Israeli organizations at the height of the current Palestinian terror wave against Israeli Jews. Last October, the Shurat HaDin - Israel Law Center sued Facebook in a New York court, garnering the signatures of 20,000 Israelis who claim that Facebook has facilitated pages and posts that incite violence against Israelis.

At the time, a Facebook spokesperson told JNS.org that “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.”

Prominent constitutional law attorney Nathan Lewin told JNS.org that while constitutional and legal protections for freedom of expression do cover dissemination of information by Facebook and other social networks, “these networks can be held responsible for incitement to violence within constitutional standards.”

Posted on April 25, 2016 .