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February 28, 2019 12:22 pm

Israel Prohibits Anonymous Online Political Content Ahead of April Election

avatar by Tofi Stoler / CTech

Israeli election ballots. Photo: David Shai via Wikicommons.

CTech – 40 days ahead of the general election in the country, Israel’s Central Elections Committee issued a decree on Wednesday extending existing propaganda law — which prohibits anonymous political publications — to content posted online.

The decision, made by the committee’s chairman Hanan Melcer, came following a petition filed in December by social activists, to which the ruling Likud party was the only party to explicitly object.

The decree determines that all online publications — including posts, comments, and shares on social media — that are paid for or solicited by a political party or candidate must be identified as such, and include the name of the paying or soliciting party, its address, and its contact information.

It also emphasized that the responsibility falls on the advertisers and not on social media platforms. The decree further states that social media companies should take into consideration the announced changes when deciding whether certain content violates their terms and regulations or local law.

On Tuesday, after several meetings attended by Facebook executives and Israeli officials, Facebook finally announced it will only launch its political ad transparency feature in Israel in mid-March, less than a month ahead of the country’s general election scheduled for April 9. The feature will associate paid political ads with the advertising page and showcase them in an archive that will also include additional information on the campaign, such as target demographics, budget, and extent of exposure.

In January, following several days of guesswork, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party took responsibility for a previously anonymous campaign that blamed local media for trying to push Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit into indicting Netanyahu on several fraud and bribery allegations.

On Wednesday, Israeli TV broadcasters Keshet and Reshet reported that Mandelblit is set to charge Netanyahu on Thursday in three of the cases against him, pending a hearing.

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