Facebook Forced to Pull Hate Page

By Timna Jacks in The Australian Jewish News

Bowing to pressure from the Human Rights Commission, Facebook has agreed to block an antisemitic fan page that calls for the destruction of Israel and brands Jews as fodder for gas chambers and mass murder.

“Controversial Humour: Jewish Memes”, which was part fo a string of racist and antisemitic pages and generated 2000 “likes”, included a picture of Anne Frank overlayed with the text “What’s that burning? Oh, it’s my family.”

Another image, which remains available on other Facebook pages, depicts a computer keyboard button labelled “Delete Israel” and the text: “The much needed button”.

The page was removed from view in Australia late last week after Facebook was contacted by the Human Rights Commission. Some images from the page, however, are still accessible in Australia the page remains online overseas.

Executive Counsil of Australian Jewry chief executive Peter Wertheim, who submitted a formal complaint to the Human Rights Commission shortly after the page appeared, said the site must remain accountable to its users: “Facebook, like other large corporations, has to act responsibly and ethically.”

Federal Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy Stephen Conroy, who recently called for Facebook to remove racist content from the page “Aboriginal Memes”, extended his denouncement to the antisemitic page.

“This material is clearly offensive and has no place in a civilized society,” he said.

CEO of the Online Hate Prevention Institute (OHPI) Andre Oboler, who reported the offensive images to Facebook immediately after they went online, said Facebook’s recent actions are “not good enough”.

“It is clearly hate speech and that should be enough for Facebook to accept, acknowledge and remove it.

“What Facebook is trying to do is the absolute minimum required by law, and that’s not what their terms of service say and that’s not what their moral obligation is.”

Facebook policies state that users are forbidden from posting content “that is hate speech”, and that any content that attacks people based on their perceived race, ethnicity  national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or disease “is not allowed”.

OHPI has launched a petition yielding up to 500 signatures, demanding that Facebook implement an appeals process and an ongoing systematic audit of complaints processed by the company’s front line staff.

Oboler confirmed that antisemitic pages are posted online on a daily basis. He said the trend has spiked over the last two months, with an unprecedented amount of vitriol surfacing in cyberspace over the past month.

To sign the OHPI petition, visit: http://ohpi.org.au/?p=303

Source: Timna Jacks, ‘Facebook Forced to Pull Hate Page’, The Australian Jewish News,  21 September 2012, page 4