Facebook penalizes Netanyahu page for hate speech violation

Facebook penalizes Netanyahu page for hate speech violation
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A chatbot function on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE’s Facebook page has been temporarily suspended after it sent out a message to visitors that violated the company’s policies on hate speech, The Guardian reported Tuesday.

According to the British newspaper, upon arrival to Netanyahu’s official Facebook page, visitors were recently greeted with a message sent out by an automated chat that said the prime minister would bring “a rightwing policy of a Jewish state, security, and a strong Israel.”

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The message then went on to warn visitors of “a secular leftwing weak government that relies on Arabs who want to destroy us all — women, children and men.”

The chatbot is reportedly run by the Likud Party, the right-wing political party to which Netanyahu belongs.

The action from Facebook comes as the prime minister continues to campaign ahead of the country’s snap legislative elections next Tuesday.

"After careful review of the Likud campaign’s bot activities, we found a violation of our hate speech policy," the company said in a statement. "We also found that the bot was misusing the platform by contacting people outside the time period allowed. As a result, we temporarily suspended the bot for 24 hours. Should there be any additional violations, we will continue to take appropriate action."

Netanyahu denied having any involvement with the message while speaking to local press, saying he thinks a campaign staffer “mistakenly” posted the message, according to Bloomberg News.

Netanyahu came under fire earlier this year for calling Israel “the national state, not of all its citizens, but only of the Jewish people.” His comments in March drew a wave of backlash online from many in defense of the country’s Arab citizens, who reportedly make up a fifth of the population.

—Updated at 3:37 p.m.