Sunday, November 29, 2015

Israel's Foreign Ministry takes on social media incitement

Nitsan Keidar,

New bureau will tackle online incitement by locating content harmful to Israel while also engaging in advocacy and dialogue

Image from article, with caption: Binyamin Netanyahu discusses Palestinian incitement

According to data from the defense establishment, the latest wave of Arab terror attacks has been characterized by terrorists aged 11 to 21 is directly affected by the instigation of social media sites.

The reason for this phenomenon is the ready availability of incitement on social networks, as well as a lack of supervision over the materials found on such sites.

To combat the issue, Israel's Foreign Ministry is looking to develop an effective response to help reduce the level of incitement on social networks.

Because of the ministry's ability to work with social networks more efficiently than private citizens, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotoevly has decided to establish a special bureau to deal with the intensifying problem of online incitement.

The bureau will concentrate on three main issues: The first is finding videos containing inflammatory content and subsequently filing an official request to have the social media sites take down these clips.

The second measure will be the development of an application which will identify keywords such as "knife" and "Jews" in Arabic or other languages, enabling the ministry to track the creators and poster of inciting content.

The third, and perhaps most important, is the actual intervention of staffers in discussions on social networks, where they will be tasked with distributing hasbara materials from the Foreign Ministry.

The new team will include between eight to ten people, all fluent in Arabic and who a have a background in the Arab world. It will operate under the auspices of the Public Diplomacy Department.

Hotovely praised the new Foreign Ministry bureau on Sunday morning, calling it an important step in the war against incitement.

"The daily attacks in Israel are the result of youth and children who have been incited on social networks," she argued. "A persistent war against incitement cannot be executed without a body coordinating the work with social networks."

"The Foreign Ministry deals with this issue all the time, and it's time it will provide a fundamental answer to the problem through the ministry's good connection with the headquarters of social networking sites. I am sure the establishment of this bureau will reduce online incitement and I hope, as a result, the violence."

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