Thursday, February 2nd | 12 Shevat 5783

May 6, 2020 1:38 pm

Top UK Jewish Group Demands Action From Facebook After Threat of Antisemitic Bombing

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avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of the Facebook logo. Photo: Reuters / Dado Ruvic / Illustration / File.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews called on Facebook on Wednesday to take action following a violent threat it received on the social media site.

The threat was made in a comment to a post by Jackie Walker, a former Labour party member who was booted for antisemitism.

Referring to the new Labour leader, Walker wrote, “Dear BoD, Kier Starmer, ‘Jewish Community Groups’ — if you want race conflict, you are going the right way. Stop it now.”

User Paul Blackburn commented on the post: “Bomb the bod!”

Another commenter noted, “That’s direct incitement to violence.”

Blackburn replied, “F–kin right it is! The bullet & the bomb is the only way this country will ever be free!”

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl stated on Wednesday, “This situation would be worrying at the best of times, but what made it a thousand times worse is that, when alerted to this situation, Facebook took no action to remove the account of either the man who made the direct threat, or the original poster who incited it.”

“In fact, the member of staff who reported it to Facebook initially received a response telling him that they would not be removing the comment threatening to bomb us because ‘it doesn’t go against any of our Community Standards,’” she said.

“While the statement itself was eventually removed after we intervened directly with Facebook staff, it should not have taken this level of knowledge of people in the company to receive a response,” van der Zyl added.

“What this incident demonstrates, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is that either Facebook’s Community Standards are hopelessly flawed or those employees responsible for implementing them are extremely ill-trained; or possibly both,” she said, pointing out that the offending posts had not been taken down.

“We live in a climate where Jewish institutions have been attacked in the very recent past,” she observed. “We do not understand why a social media company is somehow so reluctant to take action on direct threats against a Jewish communal organization.”

“We would urge Facebook to wake up and realize that there is a difference between free speech on the one hand, and incitement and hate speech on the other,” Van der Zyl concluded.

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