Belief Beat

Reversing an earlier announcement that it would merely “monitor” the situation, Facebook shut down a fan page for the “Third Palestinian Intifada” today — prompted by outcry from Israeli officials and Jewish groups like the Anti-Defamation League.

I’m a bit confused, because you can still find several Facebook pages for Third Palestinian Intifada (mostly in Arabic), but I guess they’re not the official one that was removed, which had amassed more than 300,000 fans as of yesterday.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was raised Jewish, but now identifies as an atheist. (His lapsed Judaism and apparent ethnic/religious ambivalence was a factor in his surprising absence from last year’s Forward 50 list of most influential Jews.) Still, I was surprised that none of the requests to remove the intifada page even tried playing to his Jewish roots. Maybe the ADL and the like thought this strategy might backfire?

Meanwhile, plenty of questionable Facebook pages remain up. (Fans of irony should check out the one called “Mark Zuckerberg isn’t welcome in Israel.” But maybe not in front of the kids, or at work.) Where does and should the company draw the  line? It’s OK for Egyptians, Libyans, Yemenites, Bahrainis, etc. to use Facebook to organize resistance against Mubarak, Gaddafi, etc. — but not necessarily for Palestinians to organize against Israel? Is the company’ s policy to take down a page that specifically incites violence, as opposed to a more vague form of resistance?

In any case, there’s still Twitter, YouTube, Internet message boards and plenty of other ways for people to organize through social media these days, so Facebook taking down the page won’t be enough if thousands of Palestinians are determined to start a new uprising on May 15. (Good news for Christians who believe the world will end on May 21 ?)

On a final note, I’d be shocked if the threatened Muslim mass boycott of Facebook now materializes. (Not to mention, that’s the kind of nonsense that makes people forget that Palestinians are also Christian!)

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

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