Incitement and the Geopolitical Influence of Facebook Content Moderation

Cite as: 4 GEO. L. TECH. REV. 183 (2019)

Between 2015 and 2016, a new surge of violence broke out against Israeli civilians and soldiers, typified by lone actors using knives to attack at sudden and opportunistic times.1 Most often, assailants were Palestinian men without ties to any formal organization or a history of engaging in violence.2 During this period, attackers killed thirty-four Israelis while nearly two hundred Palestinians died trying to carry out the stabbings.3 While there remained no clear evidence that the attacks were organized or supported by a particular faction of the Palestinian community, some Palestinians took to social media voicing encouragement and support for the attackers.4 Opposing narratives developed around the “Knife Intifada”5 and the motivations behind it. The Israeli government blamed the violence on inciting posts on Facebook, claiming that content encouraging violence against Israelis permeated the platform. Meanwhile, Palestinians argued that the attackers acted out of frustration, desperation, and a loss of hope after years of occupation and displacement.6

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Sarah Koslov

J.D. Candidate, Georgetown University Law Center, 2020; B.A, University of South Carolina, 2014.