Micah Lakin Avni
Turning Trauma into Triumph: New Narratives for a New Israel
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Mark Zuckerberg: Hamas are OK, neo-Nazis are not

A Hamas page came down since his post was published -- but so did his criticism of Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at the Alumni Exercises at Harvard's 366th commencement exercises on May 25, 2017 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images/AFP)
Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the commencement address at the Alumni Exercises at Harvard's 366th commencement exercises on May 25, 2017 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Paul Marotta/Getty Images/AFP)

This is a link to the Hamas Media Office Facebook page. [NOTE: Dead link. The Hamas page was removed after publication of this post. See full update below] Hamas is a terrorist organization and is officially recognized as such by the United States government. Hamas has murdered more Americans, and more Jews, over the past twenty years, than all of the neo-Nazis on the planet together have since World War II. Significantly more.

After my father, Richard Lakin, was brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists almost two years ago, I began a campaign to pressure Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook and the other social media giants to proactively remove materials that incite to hatred, violence and terror. I have written to Zuckerberg directly, published opinion pieces, spoken at conferences, appeared in the media, participated in movies, initiated legislation and filed lawsuits.

Over the past year, Facebook and Zuckerberg have issued numerous corporate statements talking about how seriously they are taking the issue of terrorism. Unfortunately, those statements are fake news. Facebook has yet to take any significant action. The facts speak for themselves: the Hamas Media Office Facebook page attached to this post is just one of many examples which include the Hamas TV Facebook Page, and numerous private Facebook groups used by Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades (the Hamas military branch) to communicate. Just type their name into Facebook in Arabic to see the long list: كتائب الشهيد عز الدين القسام

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, Facebook took down a few neo-Nazi and white supremacist pages. Zuckerberg posted “There is no place for hate in our community…That’s why we’ve always taken down any post that promotes or celebrates hate crimes or acts of terrorism – including what happened in Charlottesville.”

Of course, I applaud Zuckerberg for acting against neo-Nazis. What I cannot accept is his refusal to take action against Hamas (a recognized terrorist organization) and other radical Islamic groups and leaders who openly and actively incite to hatred, violence and terror. Clearly, Zuckerberg has the ability to identify and take down these posts and pages; yet, for the most part, he refuses to do so.

Why? It’s big business. Facebook makes billions of dollars from traffic generated around hate speech and incitement to violence and terror. Not to mention fake news, cyberbullying, and lots of other unpleasant stuff.

Zuckerberg and Facebook have proven that they are not responsible enough to wield the massive power which they have amassed. It is time for governments to intervene and regulate social media.

Update: Monday, August 21

After publication of this post on Friday, the link to the Hamas Media Office Facebook page went dead over the weekend. At first glance, I was quite gratified that Facebook had evidently decided to take action. Upon further review, I was shocked by what I discovered.

On Friday morning, before I published my TOI post, I posted a version of my argument on my public Facebook page complaining, as I do here, that while Facebook was actively taking down neo-Nazi and white supremacist pages, they were not making similar efforts to remove pages related to Hamas. Although the Hamas Media Office page has disappeared, you can still click and find many offensive Facebook pages still online — the Hamas TV Station (which claims not to be formally affiliated with the Hamas) and numerous private groups that operate under the name of the Hamas military branch, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. These groups all operate in Arabic. (As I note above, try copy-pasting the Arabic name,كتائب الشهيد عز الدين القسام‎‎, into Facebook search and see for yourself: More than 40 of these groups still exist today on Facebook).

What you cannot do is read my original post. Why? Because Facebook proactively removed it. It no longer appears on my public page, nor does it show on the pages of all of the people who forwarded or commented on the post.

So the bottom line is that Facebook knowingly allows military operatives of the Hamas — the terrorist organization responsible for my father’s brutal murder – to communicate freely. However, when I criticize them for facilitating terrorism, they apparently just wave their magic digital want and make my criticism disappear. I wish they would apply the same magic to the incitement to violence and terror that they host on their platform.

About the Author
Micah Lakin Avni founded Peninsula Group Ltd., a publicly-traded Israeli commercial finance institution and served as CEO for 18 years. He was ranked among the 100 most influential people in Israel by The Marker Magazine in 2015, 2016 and 2018. Prior to founding Peninsula, Micah served as a General Partner with Jerusalem Global Ventures, and Israeli venture capital firm. Before joining Jerusalem Global Ventures, Micah was a corporate attorney with Yigal Arnon & Co., one of Israel's premier law firms. Micah serves in a volunteer capacity as the chairman of "Voices of Israel”, a long-term partnership between the State of Israel and the global pro-Israel leadership to facilitate ongoing strategic cooperation, counter the global Israel delegitimization movement and improve Israel's positive image and standing in world public opinion. In 2015, Micah’s father Richard Lakin was murdered by Hamas terrorists on a Jerusalem bus. While mourning the loss, Micah dedicated himself to raising awareness of the dangers of allowing terrorists to roam free on social media, communicating, recruiting, and inciting. He wrote op-eds in international newspapers, gave interviews, helped produce movies, lectured at universities, filed lawsuits and lobbied for legislation. These efforts helped set in motion a campaign that yielded dramatic change: While there is still plenty of work to be done, social media titans built significant infrastructures to remove terror groups from their platforms. Micah holds an LLB in Law from the Hebrew University Law School and a joint MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and the Recanati School of Business Administration at Tel Aviv University. Micah lives in Tel Aviv, Israel with his wife and four children.
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