Facebook admits ‘an error’ was made after Board bomb threat not removed

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Facebook admits ‘an error’ was made after Board bomb threat not removed

Social media site's Head of Product Policy and Counterterrorism quizzed by MP about post threatening Jewish organisation and mocking the death of George Floyd

Jack Mendel is the former Online Editor at the Jewish News.

Comments made on Jackie Walker's Facebook, saying the 'bomb and the bullet' are the only ways to make sure the country will be "free"
Comments made on Jackie Walker's Facebook, saying the 'bomb and the bullet' are the only ways to make sure the country will be "free"

A top Facebook official admitted “an error” was made, after a bomb threat made against the Board of Deputies was deemed not against its rules.

The social media giant’s Head of Product Policy and Counterterrorism, Monika Bickert, was quizzed by SNP MP John Nicholson on Thursday, as part of an investigation by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Sub-committee on Online Harms and Disinformation.

Bickert was asked about the threat made against the Board, which was not initially removed. The the company said at the time it “does not go against any of our community standards”. She was also probed on a post mocking the death of unarmed black man, George Floyd.

When asked during the hearing whether the bomb threat was acceptable to post on the site, Bickert said: “hypotheticals are really tricky for me because we would always look at the context.”

When told it was a stand-alone post, she said “no, that is not OK.”

Challenged on why it wasn’t removed, Nicholson read out the company’s reply, which said “we reviewed the comment and it does not go against any of our community standards. We recommend that you unfriend the person who posted it.”

The SNP politician said: “It seems unlikely that the Board of Deputies of British Jews would have a friend who advocates bombing them. So, I wonder, why you’d send such a grotesquely dismissive response?”

John Nicolson MP questions Monika Bickert

Bickert admitted: “That was an error and we did remove that content. We never should have sent that message”.

Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “We are very grateful to John  Nicholson for questioning Monica Bickert so forensically about these two distressing posts which were allowed to stay in place, even following complaints by Facebook users.

“If, as she says, they should have been removed immediately then Facebook must address the matter of why this this kind of hate material is not routinely deleted whenever it is discovered. We would also like to thank Mr Nicholson, who took time out to discuss these matters with our team earlier this week.”

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