Israel vs. Facebook? Knesset bill seeks to rein in social-media censorship



Right-wing protesters demonstrate outside the Facebook company branch in Tel Aviv on July 15, 2021. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

David Isaac, Jewish News Syndicate

(JNS) Knesset member Galit Distel-Atbaryan of the Likud Party, who says Facebook targeted her for her right-wing views, introduced a law in June to give citizens recourse should they find themselves out of favor with the social networks.

“The Social Networks Bill,” in its explanatory section, says that while online networks like Facebook want to prevent undesirable phenomena such as radicalization and violence, “it seems that the removal of content and the blocking of users is done arbitrarily, without the users being given the opportunity to understand the reason for the blocking, and without the actual possibility of appealing it.”

The bill requires social networks to clearly state their policies for removing content and blocking users by providing “an available response in the Hebrew language for the investigation of complaints” and to provide a way for users to query about removal policies.

The bill also clarifies when users can seek damages in court, permitting “litigation against the social networks operating in Israel under Israeli law, in order to prevent the situation of a legal vacuum in which damages are created without redress.”

The proposed law is identical to one introduced by former Knesset member for the Likud Amit Halevi in November 2020. Distal-Atbaryan decided to resubmit it.