Facebook suspends chatbot of Netanyahu’s Likud party’s campaign

A week ahead of the Israeli general election, Facebook has suspended the campaign bot of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party over a violation of its hate speech policy, The social media giant said on Thursday.

The bot warned against a “weak” left-wing government “which relies on Arabs, who want to annihilate us all – women, children and men,’’ as seen in a screenshot of a message by the bot published by Israeli daily Haaretz.

According to Haaretz, the message appeared to anyone accessing Netanyahu’s official Facebook page, urging them to vote Likud.

A Facebook spokesperson said: “After careful review of the Likud campaign’s bot activities, we found a violation of our hate speech policy’’.

“We also found that the bot was misusing the platform in the time period allowed to contact people.

“As a result, we temporarily suspended the bot for 24 hours.

“Should there be any additional violations, we will continue to take appropriate action,’’ the statement added.

A spokeswoman for Likud said the post “was a mistake of a headquarters employee’’.

“Prime Minister Netanyahu did not see the post nor did he approve of it.

“He does not agree with the statement.

“When it was brought to his attention, he asked for the post to be removed immediately,’’ she added.

Netanyahu has in the past been accused of incitement against Israel’s Arab population, particularly in election campaigns.

His right-ring Likud party faces a tight race against the centrist Blue and White party in the Sept. 17 election. (dpa/NAN)