Facebook (FB) Faces More Regulatory Troubles in Israel

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Reportedly, Facebook Inc.FB and a host of other social media services will now have to take down posts that apparently provoke terrorism immediately, following the approval of a bill by Israel courts. Per media reports, the "Facebook Bill" will arm the government with powers to remove offensive content without even giving social media companies any prior warnings.

Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan was quoted by media reports as saying "Incitement leads to terrorism, but Facebook and other social media companies do not respond to all of the police's requests to remove such content, or take a long time to do so. If the bill, which has raised concerns about restrictions on free speech, becomes a law, social media providers would no longer have such liberty of judging the merit of each request in Israel."

In July this year, Facebook was blasted by the Israel government for noncooperation. Erdan had accused Facebook of not removing offensive content that Palestinians post against the country on the network. As per a Bloomberg report, Israel has seen an unprecedented increase in "lone wolf" attacks by Palestinians and the government felt that posts backing such gruesome incidents on social media platforms like Facebook tend to glorify such ghastly acts.

Per media reports, in a stern statement, the minister had said, "Facebook today, which brought an amazing, positive revolution to the world, sadly, we see this since the rise of ISIS and the wave of terror, it has simply become a monster. Facebook today sabotages, it should be known, sabotages the work of the Israeli police, because when the Israeli police approach them, and it is regarding a resident of Judea and Samaria, Facebook does not cooperate."

Reportedly, Israel now joins the list of countries, which have passed similar legislations including the U.S, U.K, Canada and Australia.

The popularity of social media platforms has been soaring. However, these platforms have been used by anti-social elements for propaganda. As a result, law enforcement agencies and governments have been cracking down hard on these companies.



On the other hand, even companies like Facebook, on their part, have been taking a lot of steps to control abusive/prejudiced content on its platform. Facebook has always maintained that "we work regularly with safety organizations and policymakers around the world to ensure that people know how to make safe use of Facebook. There is no room for content that promotes violence, direct threats, terrorist or hate speeches on our platform." The company has a trained team that can review such posts and take it down, if required, in a span of 24 hours.

Plus, it has been vehemently trying to crackdown on fake news, which at times can lead to violence. Per the blog post, the initiatives taken up by Facebook to curb fake news on its platform include improvement of technical systems to develop a more efficient detection of false stories. It is also working to enable its 1.79 billion users to report stories that are fake. This apart, the social network is availing the help of third parties for better verification of news and is looking at the option of "labeling stories" that are "flagged" counterfeit by them. Furthermore, the company declared that it is "raising the bar for stories that appear in related articles under links in News Feed." Facebook said it will also scrutinize ads that promote bogus stories for monetary gains. Lastly, it said that it will work with the entire news industry to improve its fact checking systems.

A few days back, Facebook along with Twitter Inc. TWTR , Microsoft Corp. MSFT and Alphabet Inc. GOOGL joined hands to curb extremist activities on social media platforms. The companies said that they all are getting together to identify the images, video and other content that compose of radical content and create a database for the same and delete it.

At present Facebook carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Year to date, Facebook shares have generated a return of 12.05% compared with the Zacks Internet Services ' industry's return of 2.72%.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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