In Israel, Facebook has picked a fight with the wrong guy. Dori Ben Israel, runs the creative agency & marketing news site Mizbala, where articles critical of Facebook have been published. He found that their site and those critical articles were suddenly blocked from being shared on Facebook.
As reported by Haaretz, Dori Ben has been very critical of Facebook, critising their blocking which has been both aggressive and arbitraty. One of the instances he's written about was when comedian Guri Alfi complained about Facebook deleting one of his posts, which he attributed to the fact that he credited photographer Guy Kushi. The Hebrew word “kushi” is a derogative term for black people. In another case, Gili Cohen, a participant in the “Big Brother” reality show, was blocked on Facebook for 30 days after posting a video clip in which he harshly criticised the fact that he and others had been blocked for using “banned words” in old posts. Suddenly, the link to Mizbala was blocked by Facebook, effectivly censoring all critical views of the platform, on the platform. Not only that, all posts previously made that linked to Mizbala, vanished as well.
“Over the past hour, Facebook Israel has erased all links to Mizbala’s site that were ever shared on Facebook. I view this issue gravely, as a miserable, violent attempt of dubious legality by Facebook to censor Mizbala’s coverage of it, and as a death blow to its reputation. In light of this violent conduct, Mizbala will respond accordingly and in full force. I hope you now understand who we’re dealing with and how important coverage of Facebook is.”
Dori Ben-Israel added in another post on his site: “Facebook Israel hasn’t linked to Mizbala’s extensive coverage of it and has blocked the site. Along the way, it has also erased all links (to Mizbala) ever shared from it. If they want war, war is what they’ll get. I have no more reasonableness, no more propriety, no more conscience. This means war.” His own personal Facebook profile has been removed by Facebook.
Facebook Israel responded
"We want people to feel safe when using Facebook. We developed a set of Community Standards designed to help people understand what type of sharing is allowed on Facebook, and what type of content may be reported to us and removed. And our standards clearly state: 'You may not publish the personal information of others without their consent.' Therefore if we receive a report of content which has the personal phone numbers and email addresses of individuals, we will remove this."
Dori Ben Israel has not only sued facebook in Israel, arguing that Facebook is violating the libel law when it claims Mizbala is an "unsafe" site and defines it as containing spam. This is thus an "unfair intervention and false description." He's also arranged active demonstrations outside of Facebook Israel CEO Adi Sofer's house, where protestors called for an end of the censorship happening on the platform. Mizbala is not the only site that has been blocked in this manner, even commercial sites like The "Champion Motors" page about their new Volkswagen Polo's available for sale has been blocked for "malicious content." About 40 people, including social activist and media personalities, including journalist Yigal Sarna and activist Yigal Rambam were at the most recent protest, and this was not the first time they protested at her house.
Now Dori Ben Israel has successfully lobbied himself to serve as an anti-Facebook lobbyist in Knesset, taking this fight to a whole new level.
He's been active in the group bridgeswillburn.com, which is a collective of creative minds, PR professionals and media professionals. Dori Ben Israel launched the site contact-facebook.com so that people could find the contact numbers & emails to key figures at Facebook and bring their greiviances directly to them, as getting issues resolved with Facebook is near impossible. Dori makes it clear that this is the main issue, facebook holds too much power over communications that they aren't taking responsibility for. He argues that Facebook has long since ceased to be a private entity, especially in Israel where every citizen has a facebook page and it's the main channel of social communications.
"I'm not Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook is not mine, and anyone who knows how to make billions in favor of 1.7 billion people also needs to know how to take responsibility and to provide service and support centers, emergency centers, respond to journalists."
As a lobbyist at Knesset, his leading agenda will be to attempt to minimize Facebook's power.