Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is likely a very busy man, is facing an unexpected task: The Israeli parliament has summoned him for a discussion on the social network at the request of Knesset Member Moshe Gafni (United Torah Judaism).
Gafni was surprised to discover this week that someone had opened a fake Facebook profile using his name, holding conversations with other Facebook users and answering their questions. Gafni, who as an ultra-Orthodox Jew, is against using the social network, was concerned about his reputation and tried to have the page removed.
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First, he attempted to contact the Facebook management, but to no avail. He turned to the Knesset Guard's sergeant-at-arms and other officials, who told him they were unable to do anything about it.
Gafni tried to contact the Facebook management yet again, and after failing he consulted professional sources at the Knesset and decided to convene an urgent discussion at the Knesset's Science and Technology Committee, which he happens to head – both in order to solve his personal problem and in a bid to help other public figures or citizens who may be facing a similar problem.
But Gafni did not settle for a standard guest list, which includes Knesset Guard Sergeant-at-Arms Brigadier-General Yossi Grif, and decided to take it even further: He sent a letter to Zuckerberg himself and asked him to attend the discussion in order to inform Israeli lawmakers on how Facebook deals with such cases and on ways to contact its management.
The appeal was sent to the Facebook CEO by Gafni's media advisor, Yerach Toker. The discussion is scheduled for two weeks from now.
'I'd be happy to see you as our guest of honor'Gafni wrote in the letter: "To the distinguished Mr. Zuckerberg, I have the honor to invite you to the Israeli Knesset to take part in a comprehensive discussion about defending civil rights in the era of the Facebook social network.
"Several days ago, I discovered that an impostor had opened a Facebook profile using my name. I reported it, but the profile is still active… I am not just concerned about myself… I'm wondering how an ordinary citizen can protect himself from such mischief, which may harm him and his family… I ask you to come and take part in this serious discussion… I would be happy to see you as our guest of honor at the Knesset."
So what are the chances that we'll see Zuckerberg in Israel? He is not obligated to accept the invitation. Estimates are that Facebook will eventually send a representative to the committee, exempting Zuckerberg from appearing before the Israeli lawmakers.
MK Gafni told Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday, "The fact that any citizen can open a Facebook page using my name or the name of another Knesset member or public representative is serious, but we will know what to do in order to defend ourselves.
"I don't know if Zuckerberg will accept our request to attend the discussion, but we are public representatives cannot ignore the given situation, which can cause a great amount of damage to citizens."