Facebook will remove hate content that also uses the word “Zionist” – Notice Important Online

Meta tightens its activity against anti-Semitic content: The owner of Facebook and Instagram has decided that from now on it will remove content that refers to the use of the word “Zions” and includes certain phrases that are prohibited according to the company’s policy on hate speech.

This is because, according to the company, the use of the word Zionism is often seen as an alternative expression intended to refer to Jews or Israelis, which are groups with protected characteristics according to company policy.

In her decision, Meta added that the policy guidelines that existed before the change do not adequately address the ways in which people use the term Zionist online and in the world.

The company announced today that it will remove this content in cases where it does not deal with Zionism in the context of a political ideology, but uses anti-Semitic stereotypes, or hate speech directed towards Jews or Israelis, under the guise of statements against Zionists (for example: “Zions are pigs”). 

The new policy published by the company reads: “We do not allow people to attack other people on our platforms based on their protected characteristics (such as their nationality, race or religion).

Enforcing these policies requires understanding how people use language to refer to these characteristics. The word “Zionist” has layers of meaning based on both its origins and its usage today, and it can be very context dependent.

This term sometimes refers to supporters of a political movement, which is not itself a protected characteristic according to our policy, but in some cases may be used as an alternative expression (proxy) to refer to Jewish or Israeli people, which are protected characteristics according to our hate speech policy.

“We have re-examined the use of the term “Zionists”https://www.jpost.com/”Zions” at different times over the past few years, we have consulted with political science experts, historians, lawyers, digital and civil rights groups, activists for freedom of expression, and human rights experts. We recognize that there is nothing which approaches a global consensus regarding the question of what people mean when they use the term “Zionist”.

However, based on the research regarding its use as an alternative expression (proxy) for Jews and Israelis in relation to certain types of hate attacks – we have decided that from now on we will remove content that targets “Zions” in comparisons that dehumanize, call for harm, or deny existence. This, on the basis that the use of the word “Zionist” in those cases is often seen as the use of an alternative expression (proxy) for Jewish or Israeli people.

(credit: MAARIV)

Bamata added: “We do not allow content that attacks people based on protected characteristics such as nationality, race, religion, and other characteristics. We do allow people to criticize political and ideological affiliation. For example, we would remove a post that says “People from ‘religion X’ are stupid” , but they do allow a post that says “supporters of ‘political movement X’ are stupid”.

At the same time, sometimes people will criticize others using words that do not explicitly refer to protected characteristics, but are usually understood as words that refer to those protected characteristics through a proxy expression. When such proxy terms are used, we treat those terms as if they expressly refer to the protected property.

“Furthermore, we have decided that from now on we will remove content that attacks “Zionists” when it does not specifically deal with the political movement, but uses anti-Semitic stereotypes, or threatens other types of harm through intimidation, or violence directed at Jews or Israelis under the guise of anti-Zionist statements, including including Claims about managing the world or controlling the media, comparisons that dehumanize, such as comparisons to pigs, filth or vermin, calls for physical harm, denials of existence or ridicule of illness.”

Sasha Roitman-Dratva, CEO of the Movement to Combat Anti-Semitism: “The decision made by ‘Meta’ (Facebook) is welcome, and is the first step on the way to understanding that the use of the term ‘Zions’ as a way of our enemies to hide hatred of Jews is wrong and blatant, and there is no place for it. For too long, anti-Semitic and pro-Palestinian elements have been able to use the word ‘Zionist’ freely on social media, when it is clear that their intention is to attribute it as derogatory, and to use it as a ‘weapon’ in the propaganda war that is taking place against us.

Since October 7, and even earlier, we have seen how inciting, violent and anti-Semitic discourse on the Internet turns into violent and terrorist incidents against Jews, and this discourse needs to be stopped in time. This is an important step on Meta’s part, and we hope that other social networks will take similar steps. We will continue to work on a daily basis to make this happen.”

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Facebook will remove hate content that also uses the word “Zionist” – Notice Important Online

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