BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Facebook deletes Hezbollah, Al-Manar TV pages for ‘inciting violence’

FILE - A screen shot grabbed from the website, show's the applications on Ipad and Iphones.

BEIRUT: Facebook pages created by Al-Manar television station have been removed from the site, after a decision by the social networking website to halt activity connected with Hezbollah after their appearance on the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

“Under our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities we do not allow content that ‘incites violence,’” said Frederic Wolens, a Facebook spokesperson. “And to help keep our site safe, we use the State Department List of Foreign Terror Organizations to help make determinations of which groups may be involved in the promotion of violence. Due to Hezbollah’s appearance on the list, they have been removed from the site.”

Wolens said this extended to Al-Manar, whose official page was not accessible Thursday. A Hezbollah community page was also down, although a spokesperson for the party said the group has never had an official page.

Both Google and Apple took the television station’s applications from their stores at the end of last month, in a move praised by the Anti-Defamation League, an NGO which seeks to fight anti-Semitism, which told media outlets it had sent a letter to the organizations asking them to remove the app.

Hezbollah is designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and in 2004 Al-Manar was added to the Terrorism Exclusion List.

It also designated it a Specially Designated Global Terrorist Entity in 2006, a move which prohibits transactions between the organization and U.S. citizens.

In July the Middle East Media Research Institute, based out of Washington, D.C., published a report calling for social networks to exclude Hezbollah and its affiliates.

The pro-Israel institute, which researches media coming out of the region, argued that the use of these sites by Hezbollah and Al-Manar was banned under the restrictions for providing designated terrorists with “communication equipment and facilities.”

As well as Google, Apple and Facebook, the report also targeted YouTube and Twitter, both of which Al-Manar has accounts on. So far neither has indicated they plan to block Hezbollah or affiliates from using their sites.

The United States has upped its pressure on Hezbollah’s financial side in recent weeks, most recently applying new sanctions on the group over its connections with the Syrian regime.

On Thursday Al-Manar’s website offered an alternative way to download its app “following the campaign carried out by the Jewish Anti-Defamation League to deactivate Al-Manar applications on smartphones at Google Play and Apple store.”

Websites for Al-Manar’s shows, including Al-Ghalibon, were still accessible Thursday.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 17, 2012, on page 4.

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