Oznia, a blog of Israel things

~Facebook goes political by aklionsky
April 1, 2008, 3:06 am
Filed under: arts/culture, opinion, politics | Tags: , , ,

I was flipping through the March 28 issue of the Forward when the word “Facebook” in a headline caught my eye. (click here to link to the article)

After reading the first paragraph of the article, which said that “Israelis in the West Bank woke up earlier this week to be informed that they now live under Palestinian rule,” I was shocked and thought that maybe, just maybe, it was some sort of early April Fools’ Day joke. Alas, after reading on I found that it wasn’t a joke, but that there was a logical explanation.

Residents of Israeli West Bank settlements had their political opinions compromised when Facebook removed “Yesha” (what those Israelis call where they live) and instead automatically displayed “Palestine” as the network for everyone who listed a West Bank address. Previously, Facebook users who listed a West Bank address could choose between Yesha and Palestine as their country.

Facebook’s removal of Yesha prompted a quick response, and users can again choose to list their country as either Israel or Palestine.

My thoughts were the same as Seth Vogelman, who the Forward cites as having protested the change. Vogelman said, “Facebook is all about a sense of ‘anything goes,’ but when it comes to our identity, we can’t list our homes where we want. We feel we’re living in the State of Israel, and out of the blue they decide we can’t say that.”

I believe that every person is entitled to her own political views. However, I think it is inappropriate for a nonpolitical networking site, like Facebook, to make sweeping decisions that clearly implicate political biases. It have been okay if a political group had been formed by users to talk about Yesha vs. Palestine, but the fact that top dogs of Facebook made this decision bothers me.

Did anyone hear about this? Know people who were affected? Thoughts?


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