Israel rallies for transparency on global social media

The rise of social media and the internet of things has left very little to the imagination but can also be extremely harmful, especially in the case of conspiracy theories and inaccurate or unproven information. Much like how misinformation and inappropriate content is flagged, those that sympathize with the Jewish diaspora believe that anti-semitic views should be labled as such, leaving no room for propaganda to seep through the system undetected. 

According to Michael Biton, the strategic affairs minister in Israel’s ministry of defense, mentions that Jews and Israel alike are being “attacked through incitement, the spreading of misinformation, and outright lies.” He says that they are holding social media accountable for their hand in spreading this hate. If these information were labeled clearly, it could help heed off the more gullible or lesser informed from blindly believing the misinformation that they are being fed. Not everyone uses social media responsibly or with a clear head. Intellectuals are more well-suited for social media as they will use their powers of comprehension, coupled with the search engine that technology provides us with, to deduce a more feasible truth. Unfortunately, that is not true for the majority of social media users who believe the first piece of information they come across as if it were the gospel. 

Biton continues by saying that social media has a responsibility to “implement clearer, more effective, and transparent policies”. The diaspora affairs minister Omer Yankelevich supplemented further by saying that while freedom of speech must be protected, it shouldn’t protect “violent incitement and anti-Semitism”. There is an incredible lack of initiative when it comes to social media’s gatekeeping and many hate speech go undetected. Unlike social media marketing which is under careful supervision, especially by corporate giant and social media king, Facebook. Every image and boosted post is monitored closely, yet comments or even videos may sometimes slip through the cracks. 

After repeated attacks on Facebook’s poor gatekeeping and they have recently implemented a fact check box in order to combat against Holocaust denial. This move came hot on the heels of the publication of the Online Holocaust Denial Report Card which gave Facebook their first “D” rating when it comes to protecting the truth, with the only social media platform coming close to A being Twitch, a game-streaming platform. The report card is a fabrication of the Anti-Defamation League, which is adamant in protecting the vulnerable against hate and bullying

What Facebook has successfully been doing is preventing widespread misinformation of general news that has mass media attention, as well as the favor of the mainstream. They have recently curbed fake news regarding the current pandemic and the immunizations that are becoming available across the globe. The social media platform’s company insists that they will not tolerate anti-vaxxers on their platform and will shut down unfounded fears regarding innocolution. They recently deleted a Facebook group which is closely connected to Israeli rabbi Amnon Yitzhak, who has anti-vaccination tendencies and has been peddling fake news and brainwashing the masses on said Facebook group.

Now that the social media giant has taken note of anti-semitic sentiments, hopefully they will keep the mantel going strong as well as fortify their platform against similar hate crimes. Whether in America, China, Israel, or any part of the world. There is no honor in striking down someone, especially with baseless or blatant lies. In a world where digital information is king, misinformation can spread like wildfire. Uncontrollable and unregulated. It can destroy entire cultures and ways of life, simply by perpetuating certain beliefs. Whether this is about history, or current affairs, perception has a way of transforming and being re-written in the favor of the winners. In this case, if these extremists success in convincing the majority of earth’s population that the Holocaust did not happen, as time goes on and the sole survivors pass on, it would become completely eradicated and only exist for particular historians. It’s a scary thought to entertain, but one that is completely at the mercy of social media.

With that in mind, Israeli ministers and lawmakers are tackling tech giants, and not just social media platforms, appealing to safeguard the truth and make the internet a safer place for everyone. They prepared a proposal for Facebook, Google, TikTok and Twitter detailing how they should equip against hate movements and the spread of misinformation, handling the information as if it pertains to COVID-19 or the US presidential election.

Aside from being more transparent with handling the information on their respective websites, they should also train their staff to recognize what doesn’t seem right as well as have a better flagging system. With misinformation, it’s important to nip it in the bud, cutting it off from the masses just like how COVID-19 patients are quarantined until stripped of the deadly disease, because indeed, misinformation is a disease that will poison society if left unchecked. 

About the Author
Scientist turned techie. Founder at Neliti & Reputio. Interested in sharing lessons learnt from Tel Aviv's bustling technology ecosystem.
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