Facebook Gets Involved in Mideast Drama

There has been an ongoing debate about whether or not Palestine should be considered a network on Facebook. Just last week at South by Southwest, one audience member questioned Mark Zuckerberg about the lack of a Palestinian network. He replied that Facebook acknowledges territories based on what the United States considers territories. Since then, Palenstine mysteriously appeared as a network and some West Bank Jewish settlements are up in arms about their hometown being automatically listed as “Palestine.”

According to Joseph Nasr, Brandee Barker of Facebook said that “users living in major settlement blocs can now choose between being listed as residents of Israel or Palestine.” There are a number of groups that have now been created on both sides of the deabte. Some have protested that they will leave Facebook if Palestine is removed as a network while others are arguing that Palestine is not a country.

I’m not quite sure when Palestine was added as a network to the site but this addition will surely spark controversy from both ends. While Facebook may never have intended to be an active participant in politics, it has found itself in an increasing number of conflicts including Colombia where Facebook has been used to to protest the Farc. The further that Facebook distances themselves from political issues, the better.

Facebook needs to focus on building highly efficient communication systems rather than dabble with politics. No matter how hard they try it appears as though Facebook is never too far from controversy.