Social-Media Platforms Are Quick to Stamp Out Racism. Less So Incitement to Anti-Jewish Violence

Last week, the British musician Richard Cowie, Jr. (known by the stage name Wiley), declared on Twitter that Jews were “cowards” and “snakes,” and made all-too-familiar comments about Jews’ malign power. Twitter, after considerable outcry, removed the offending comments, and temporarily suspended Cowie’s account. But thousands of users of the platform—including the British chief rabbi and various figures from politics, journalism, and entertainment—were dissatisfied with its slow and tepid response, and are currently staging a 48-hour boycott of the website.

The episode raises the persistent problem of how to regulate social media, and the undeniable fact that social-media companies’ own censors rarely respond to anti-Semitic invective and incitement with the alacrity and firmness with which they respond to other forms of bigotry. Nitsana Darshan-Leitner comments:

Social-media platforms enjoy absolute immunity from any liability over the user-generated content they feature. [Instead, they] have an internal mechanism for dealing with “content that violates the community’s rules,” and remove posts according to their sole discretion. The broad immunity afforded to them by law often translates into selective enforcement.

There have been dozens of cases in which right-wing activists and journalists had their Facebook accounts suspended for allegedly violating the community’s rules with their posts, all while someone sitting in Facebook headquarters in Ireland has no problem allowing posts inciting the murder of Jews to stand.

Facebook’s own interpretation of the limits of freedom of expression has had a clear impact on the waves of stabbing and ramming attacks in Israel and around the world. This has been clearly shown in examples of inciting social-media posts included as evidence of motive and intent in many cases of mayhem and murder. The evidence proves that the killers were often inspired by, and drew ideological justification for, their actions from posts by extremist religious leaders. It also proves that they received “training” from videos posted by terrorist groups on their websites as well as on social media.

For years, social-media giants have refused to abide by any regulation or to cooperate with state authorities because they had no intention of sharing the immense power they have amassed in terms of navigating global discourse. That is not only senseless, it violates U.S. laws that bar aiding and abetting any form of terrorism.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Anti-Semitism, Facebook, Social media, Terrorism


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security