A new lawsuit argues that Facebook allowed anti-Semitic and anti-Israel content to spread across their platform, putting the lives of Israeli citizens in danger during a wave of violent attacks on Israelis by Palestinians in 2015.
The Verge reports that after a vehicle attack against Israeli soldiers in October of 2015 and a subsequent wave of shootings and stabbings, some Palestinian groups began encouraging violence against Jews via Facebook. Accounts linked to Hamas shared cartoons and memes depicting violence against Jewish people, and over the next 15 months, 47 people were killed and 675 wounded in anti-Israeli attacks.
As some began referring to the anti-Semitic Facebook groups as “Facebook Intifada,” Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu spoke out against the groups. “What we are seeing here is a combination of radical Islam and the internet,” Netanyahu said speaking to the Likud Party that October. “Osama bin Laden meets Mark Zuckerberg. The incitement in the social networks is moving the murders.”
Facebook is now being brought to court over the groups. The company faced plaintiffs in the Eastern New York District Court yesterday who claimed that the social media platform fuelled anti-Semitic violence and put thousands of Israeli lives in danger. If the suit succeeds, Facebook would be forced to stop providing services to known terrorists and pay out as much as $1 billion in damages.
In general, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are protected under law from the actions of their users; however, given a trend of recent terrorism lawsuits brought against social media companies and Facebook’s recent dedication to social change, the companies’ levels of responsibility is being tested.