Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) said Tuesday that online incitement has significantly increased, particularly since US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem in December as Israel’s capital
On Monday, Shaked said that she intends to take legal measures against “uncooperative” Twitter, which is serving as fertile grounds for terror groups.
Shaked presented facts and statistics from the cyber department of the State Attorney's Office while delivering a speech on the struggle against online incitement at the 6th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism in Jerusalem.
“It transpires from the data we hold that the greatest event, which led to a wave of incitement and calls to terrorism, is the event where the President of the United States, Donald Trump, announced the transfer of the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” she told the audience in English.
According to the figures presented by Shaked, in 2017, the cyber department submitted 12,351 requests to remove incitement content of the internet, to restrict access and to filter search results for prohibited content.
The spike necessitates a significant increase in the Justice Ministry’s workload when compared to the number of requests submitted in the previous year—only 2,241.
73.5% of the content that content providers were asked to remove were terror-related or expressions of support for terror. 25.5% of the content involved incitement to terror, racism and violence while the rest of the ministry’s activity was focused on other offences and online bullying.
With the vast majority of the requests being met, Shaked said that more had to be done by the social media sites to prevent them from surfacing in the first place.
“We expect the networks to monitor the incitement content by themselves too,” she said, before thanking Trump for his decision to transfer the US Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“I would like to take this opportunity to once again thank President Trump for transferring the American Embassy as soon as the upcoming Independence Day, a month away,” she said. "This is a respectable 70th birthday present for the State of Israel.”
The rocketing of the online incitement, she added, had nothing to do with legitimate criticism of Israel or the US. “I would like to emphasize: this has nothing to do with legitimate criticism of Israel or of the United States. This is an express call to violence against Israelis, against Israeli targets, against Jews,” she asserted as she presented her statistical exhibit.
The Ministry of Justice under my direction is investing considerable efforts in dealing with illegal online contents,” she continued, before threatening to take action against Twitter.
“One process has already been completed and currently, on Twitter for example, they are not cooperating with us and we are weighing legal steps,” she said.
“Terror organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah have gone over to operating on Twitter instead of Facebook. However, while Facebook has responded efficiently to our requests to remove content, Twitter is ignoring them,” she said in a separate meeting with Head of Facebook Policies in Southern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
“Through Twitter, terror organizations promote terror activities and incite to violence in public without fear. The reason for this is the absence of cooperation on Twitter’s side. For that, there is the law for removing content. We called it the Facebook Law but the truth is that today is needs to be called the Twitter Law.
“We see indications on the social networks of growing agitation that is likely to impact the wave of incitement around sensitive occasions. Passover, Nakba Day and the March of the Million. Terror organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah have gone over to Twitter instead of Facebook.”
The justice ministers of Greece, Italy and Malta also addressed the forum. The four ministers also signed a "Joint Statement on Countering Online Hate Speech and Incitement to Violence and Terrorism."