A Facebook page promoting terrorism and glorifying the murder of Israeli citizens has been shut down but not by the social media giant. Despite complaints, Facebook took no action and instead suggested that people just “unfollow” the page if offended. Then Facebook users heard of the company’s inaction and took action themselves.
The big kicker is that the page was not owned by ISIS or known terrorist groups, but Fatah, the political party of Mahmoud Abbas that controls and runs the West Bank and is recognized by the United Nations.
Palestinian Media Watch (PMW) first sounded the alarm earlier this year in a 40-page report it called “The Fatah-Facebook Terror Promotion Partnership”.
“We’re finding that Fatah uses this as its main social media means to send out its violent and hateful messages,” said PMW Director and Founder Itamar Marcus.
“Omar Abu Laila murdered… two Israelis in March of this year. Within days of his being tracked down and killed by Israeli soldiers, Fatah on Facebook was calling him ‘the perfect person,’” Marcus said.
“They were glorifying what he did. They were talking about naming streets after him, naming mosques after him, naming squares after him. The deputy director of Fatah made a film where he said, he (Abu Laila) represents all Palestinian youth, and Fatah put that on Facebook,” Marcus said.
Fatah’s page boasted a quarter of a million followers.
“So Fatah is sending out its message to its youth in Arabic that they see Omar Abu Laila as a role model, as someone who they’re supposed to be copying,” he said.
Earlier this year, Omar Abu Laila stabbed a soldier Sgt. Gal Keidan to death, grabbed his gun and opened fire, shooting Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, a father of 12. Then he stole the rabbi’s car and fled the scene.
In March, Facebook sent Marcus a form letter… a response he calls inadequate.
“They sent us back this beautiful letter, ‘You may find this distasteful or offensive but it doesn’t violate our standards. So why don’t you stop following them?’” Marcus recalled.
After the report, Marcus took action by starting a social media campaign against the page.
“Thousands of people emailed to the heads of Facebook, with complaints of specific items demanding that they remove this site, which promotes terror,” he said.
Then Christian news organizations began making inquiries to Facebook. On Wednesday, the Facebook page suddenly shut down with Fatah all but admitting its page broke Facebook rules against encouraging terrorism when its editor told the Israeli website The Times of Israel:
“We decided to close it down for a period of time as a precautionary measure,” said Munir Jaghoub, the editor of “The Palestinian National Liberation Movement ‘Fatah’/The Official Page,” according to The Times of Israel.
“Literally, they’re so upset and so afraid of our campaign that they’re closing it,” Marcus said.
Facebook finally responded after the site was closed, stating:
“We have received reports about potentially violating content on this Page and, as we do with all such reports, are in the process of reviewing that content to determine whether it violates our policies. We did not, however, take the action that unpublished this page.” Facebook company spokesperson.
“Facebook should just close it down permanently once and for all. Facebook has to stop looking for excuses, if they are, for Fatah and they just have to close this down,” Marcus said.
While Marcus is pleased the page is closed, he realizes Fatah could re-open it at any time unless Facebook takes permanent action. Another major concern is Facebook’s inadequate response and inaction even though Fatah clearly broke the rules. It shows why governments around the world are moving to hold the social media giant more accountable.
–Metro Voice and CBN News