The George Shultz Roundtable Forum

Roundtable: Freedom of Expression and Facebook

The Israel Democracy Institute, Pinsker 4, Jerusalem

Freedom of Expression and Facebook Bill

No one disagrees that social networks are a central and important platform that tremendously increases our freedom of expression – both in our ability to express our own views and in our access to consumer information.

The advantages of these networks are clear: Information, in all of its forms, comes to us easily and without censorship or meditation from someone “above.”

Social media has given rise to a new kind of public discourse, among other wonderful and innovative uses. Concurrently, we are uncovering some disadvantages of these platforms.

For example:

  • Social networks operate on nonobjective algorithms, skewing the flow of information to meet their needs and the needs of huge corporations.
  • In general, the boundaries of freedom of expression are not determined by the state, but by international commercial entities that don’t always understand the conditions in Israel or of its citizens, or complexities of the conflict.
  • It is becoming clear that these platforms are being used to spread negative sentiments. A person is not always nice, but it is easier to be evil-hearted when one is “talking” to a machine. Social networks make it easier to express harmful opinions, racism, xenophobia or other offensive, hateful or wicked ideas about others.

As a result, we find ourselves facing a number of questions, especially with Facebook.

For example:

  • Does Israel need to manage harmful content with legislation that restricts certain types of content on social networks and, if so, what should that legislation look like?
  • What is the role of the social networks themselves with regards to censorship of harmful information?
  • What are the network already doing to block information and why should they block it, anyway?
  • What supervisory mechanisms are already in place to ensure transparency and what else needs to be put in place?
  • Do these often uncanny issues require addressing and, if so, by who?
  • What is Israel’s role as one nation among many using social networks?

The roundtable discussion will take place at the Israel Democracy Institute, with participation by representatives of Facebook Europe and Israel, civil society organizations and academicians.

Moderator: Tehilla Shwartz Altshuler

Dr. Gur Bligh | Dr. Anat Ben-David | Ms. Jordana Cutler | Prof. Niva Elkin-Koren | Ms. Noa Elefant-Loffler  | Dr. Amir Fuchs | Dr. Atara Frenkel-Faran | Adv. Meital Greiber-Schwartz | Mr. Yoram Hacohen | Mr. Nir Hirschman | Mr. Yogev Karasenty | Dr. Nicholas John | Ch Supt. Elezar Kahane | Mr. Yogev Karasenty | Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer | Prof. David Levi-Faur | Adv. Tali Lieblich | Mr. Simon Milner | Dr. Roy Peled | Adv. Avner Pinchuk | Mr. Boaz Rakocz | Prof. Tehilla Shwartz-Altshuler | Mr. Shuki Tausig

 

By invitation only | Event will be held in English