Facebook shuts down pro-Israel prayer page over "inauthentic behavior"

(Maurizio Gambarini/dpa via AP)

Not all of the Israel-related action in the news this week is coming out of Gaza. Some of it originates in Silicon Valley. No, there aren’t any rocket attacks taking place in Menlo Park (that I know of), but this is action of a different sort. This story starts with a guy named Mike Evans. He set up a Facebook page known as the “Jerusalem Prayer Group” which had attracted nearly 80 million followers. And then suddenly his page was shut down. What sort of activity was Mike engaging in that could have resulted in this action? Blatant racism or threats of violence? Nope. He had committed the sin of leading his followers in daily prayers for the safety of the people of Israel. But in what Evans described as a coordinated act of cyberterrorism, the site was flooded with hundreds of thousands of hateful comments, most antisemitic in nature and some featuring Nazi pictures and propaganda, leading to complaints that his site was hosting hate speech. (Even though it was all in the comments.) So Facebook shut him down, potentially permanently. (NY Post)

Facebook shut down a pro-Israel page that reportedly had 77 million followers, after a “cyber terrorism” campaign by “radical Islamic” groups — who coordinated to target it with hate speech, its founder said.

“Jerusalem Prayer Group” founder Mike Evans claimed that critics bombarded the site with “more than a million” comments — and then said they had never posted to the site, CBN reported.

“There was an organized attempt by radical Islamic organizations to achieve this objective,” Evans said.

“It was a very clever, deceptive plan by Islamic radicals,” he said.

When Evans raised his objections with Facebook he was informed that there was “no further action” to be taken. They also asked him to “Please consider this decision final.”

Facebook and Twitter have been on a hot streak ever since Hamas resumed its rocket attacks on Israel. Anyone who wants to publicly vent their hatred of Israel, accusing them of “war crimes” or whatever the flavor of the week might be is welcome to do so. That’s just an exercise in “free speech,” you see. But if you’re defending Israel – or perhaps even just praying for the safety of the Jews – your page is engaging in “inauthentic behavior” so you’re violating their terms of service.

So where did they get that charge about inauthentic behavior? Facebook representatives told reporters that Evans’ page had “violated our rules against spam and inauthentic behavior.”

But the “spam” was in the comments section and it was coming from an army of people who clearly had no interest in participating in daily prayers for Israel’s safety. And the presumably “inauthentic” behavior would be a site created to support Jews having quotes from Hitler and pictures of swastikas on it. But – again – that was all in the comments section.

Evans has been in contact with some people in Washington, including Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Jared Kushner, and Mike Pompeo. Will that do any good? In years past, I might have thought that it could help. But at this point, both Facebook and Twitter are running totally out of control. Even after multiple congressional hearings, they are continuing to ignore any and all criticism and swing the ban hammer wildly at any users with insufficiently woke points of view. Best of luck, Mr. Evans, but you’re fighting a Giant this time that David might not be able to take down with his sling.