Israeli media calls for Facebook and Twitter to address online threats

A number of Israeli media outlets have urged Facebook and Twitter to take decisive action against rising online threats against journalists.

In emailed letters seen by Reuters, Israel’s top 14 TV stations, newspapers, radio stations, and news websites said that both threats and hate speech had risen recently, particularly during the 11-day conflict in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

"These media groups ... all share a sense of urgency regarding the level of danger posed by these tweets and posts and the need for all concerned to take a decisive action in this matter," wrote Noga Rubinstein, a lawyer representing the media companies.

According to the news agency, Facebook said on Tuesday that it had created a special operations centre, with both Hebrew and Arabic speakers, to respond to misinformation, hate speech, and calls for violence associated with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We don't want anyone to feel threatened or harassed on our apps," said a Facebook spokesperson."While we allow criticism of public figures, such as journalists, we don't allow people to threaten or harass them, and we remove this content whenever we become aware of it."

Twitter told Reuters it supports journalists and enforces a clear policy banning people from issuing violent threats against others, alongside policies on abusive behaviour and hateful conduct.

"Where we identify clear violations, we will take robust enforcement action. This work is constantly evolving as new challenges emerge and we recognise we have to work hard to stay ahead of those who intend to undermine the public conversation," said a Twitter spokesperson.

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