In an apparent response to Donald Trump’s shocking racist statements against Muslims, Mark Zuckerberg published a post yesterday on his Facebook page in which he stated:
“I want to add my voice in support of Muslims in our community and around the world.
After the Paris attacks and hate this week, I can only imagine the fear Muslims feel that they will be persecuted for the actions of others. As a Jew, my parents taught me that we must stand up against attacks on all communities. Even if an attack isn’t against you today, in time attacks on freedom for anyone will hurt everyone.
If you’re a Muslim in this community, as the leader of Facebook I want you to know that you are always welcome here and that we will fight to protect your rights and create a peaceful and safe environment for you.”
While I agree completely with every word in Mark’s post, I am disturbed, deeply disturbed, that as the leader of Facebook he has completely ignored the central role that Facebook and other social media titans have played as primary platforms to incite hatred and encourage violence. Hundreds of acts of terror around the world have been perpetrated, and innocent people have been slain, by those who were indoctrinated, radicalized, encouraged and instructed to kill through social media platforms. This is a universal problem which Mark refuses to address publically. As the leader of Facebook, I would have expected him to state that he will not tolerate any incitement to violence and terror in order to protect the rights of all people, and create a safe environment for all people, not just Muslims.
A few weeks ago I wrote to Mark on this topic. He did not respond. What follows is the message that I sent to him (on Facebook, of course).
On October 13, 2015, two terrorists boarded a public bus in Jerusalem and started shooting and stabbing people. My father, Richard Lakin, a retired elementary school principal and civil rights activist, was shot in the head, and after he fell to the ground, was stabbed multiple times in the head, face and stomach. Most of his vital organs were severed. He spent two weeks unconscious in the ICU before he died.
One of the two terrorists posted a call to martyrdom on his Facebook account in Arabic and it went viral. After the attack, videos of the terrorist ennobling his “act of martyrdom” went viral. A “reenactment” of the attack glorying the brutality was posted on the Islamic Block –Western Front Facebook Page on October 14, 2015. It also went viral.
Facebook has had an incredibly positive impact on the world, but has also become a platform for facilitating hate and violence, and has rapidly accelerated the spread of radical Jihadist Islam and terror. While Facebook has made some commendable efforts to help curtail this evil, it is too little, too late. Facebook is still a key accelerator in the spread of radical Jihadist Islam and terror. I recently addressed the question of incitement on social media in a New York Times Op Ed entitled The Facebook Intifada.
Violent death has a way of focusing your thinking. I experienced this for the first time when my close friend Danny Lewin, the founder of Akamai, was murdered by terrorists on American Airlines Flight 11, and again last month when my father, Richard Lakin, was murdered by terrorists on Bus 78 in Jerusalem.
During the 14 years between these two horrific murders, you founded Facebook and became a world leader. As a world leader, you bear the moral responsibility to lead the fight against hatred and violence everywhere, including with respect to radical Jihadist Islam, which will undoubtedly claim countless more innocent lives over the coming years
My parents named me Micah, after the prophet Micah who envisioned a time when people “…shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid.” I have four small children and I think about this prophecy all the time. As an expecting father pondering the world in which your child will grow up, you surely share this dream for peace.
Mark, you, more than anyone else in the world today, have the power to help fulfil this prophecy. I would welcome the opportunity to get together and share my thoughts with you about how Facebook can be take a more proactive role in curtailing the spread of radical Jihadist Islam and terror in order to create a world in which people of all races and religions can live together in peace without fearing for their lives.
With great hopes to build a better world,
Micah Lakin Avni