Jewish Tribune: Facebook takes down activist who fights antisemitism, terror

*There was an error in this article, making it sound like we saw terrorist Facebook groups directly after 9/11.  This was impossible, considering Facebook didn't exist in 2001. We tried to point this out to the Jewish Tribute, but they did not correct it.  

TORONTO – David Appletree, an activist who fights antisemitism and the Islamist terror threat online, is considering his options now that his popular Facebook account has been de-activated.

In a telephone interview with the Jewish Tribune, Appletree, founder of the Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF), said he manages several online groups with hundreds of thousands of members, the biggest being ‘United Against Holocaust Denial,’ with close to 90,000 members.

“I moderate these groups and manage the content, and remove people who are hateful,” he said. “Now the content is all vulnerable.”

Appletree founded JIDF shortly after 9/11. “Some Facebook groups were celebrating [the terror],” he said. “It was so revolting.”

JIDF has been gaining international media publicity, including reports on BBC and CNN.
“All of this caught me by surprise,” he said. “Many young people have been learning about these issues through JIDF.”

According to Appletree, Facebook’s official reason for de-activating his account was that they required a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license, to prove that the name on his account was his real name.

“They have more than 300 million members and they claim they require it for everyone. Meanwhile, there are many people who use names that are not reflected on their ID,” said Appletree, who did not confirm one way or the other whether it’s his actual name.
When the Jewish Tribune contacted Facebook several days ago asking to discuss the issue, we received the following canned response:

“Due to a high volume of requests, we are unable to respond to everyone immediately. We understand that you may be on deadline and will do our best to respond as quickly as possible.”

Originally, Appletree was just “a normal guy on Facebook,” he explained. “But I noticed so much promotion of Islamist terrorism and antisemitism all over the Internet. I was shocked. It was clearly against Facebook’s terms, promoting hatred and violence.”
He claimed that some of the online sites were not only anti-Zionist, but antisemitic as well, including comments comparing Jews to apes and pigs or saying Hitler should have finished the job.

“I complained many times in 2008,” he said. “When I was reporting it on my own, nothing was done. I now have 100,000 supporters online.

“Thanks to our efforts, Facebook has made more of an effort to remove hatemongering, but there’s still a lot out there. JIDF is responsible for the removal of hundreds of antisemitic and terrorist groups with hundreds of thousands of members,” on many Internet sites, not only on Facebook.

Appletree’s personal Facebook account, with more than 4,000 ‘friends,’ has also been hit.

“All of its content, including documentation of problems created over the course of two years, has been removed,” he said. “I believe this is a serious blow to the fight against antisemitism and terror.”

Source: Jewish Tribune
(Largest Jewish weekly in Canada)

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