Be careful what you say

Israel has long censored material it deemed sensitive but the situation may soon become even worse:

Israeli web culture is known for having an active talkback (web commenting) scene. Every major news site allows users to submit comments for every single one of its stories. Israeli culture at its best and worst thrives through discussions held within these spaces; discussions which are planned to fall under future censorship, according to the Talkback Law, proposed by Knesset member Israel Hasson. The proposal passed initial voting in the Knesset yesterday, January 16th.

According to the proposal, a popular site, defined as one with an average of 50,000 hits or more per day, will be considered a “newspaper” and thus liable for the damage or harm caused to a person as a result from its user generated content (i.e. – comments). Ironically, the web post describing this case, published yesterday on the popular ynet news site, has already received over 200 comments.

Hasson’s reasoning for the importance of such a law:

“It is unreasonable that a response, possibly anonymous, sent to a newspaper, will be held under the editor’s responsibility, but a response submitted to the online portal of that same newspaper will be under nobody’s authority”¦ We must not turn the network into a vandalizing, evil tool.”

Text and images ©2023 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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