by Mara Vigevani
The Tel Aviv District Court Monday made history Monday (Dec. 18) by forcing Facebook Israel to restore the Hebrew-language “Statusim Mezaiezim” page ( “Tweeting Posts”) that was shut down in January 2015.
The page, which has over 750,000 followers, was back on air at 11:30 am. It features humorous videos and human interest stories but Facebook had shut it down with no prior notice, saying the page featured promotional content in violation of Facebook’s terms of service.
Tel Aviv District Court Justice Rahamim Cohen also ordered Facebook to pay Avi Lan and Adi Bentov, the owners of the page, NIS 225,000 to cover their legal fees.
Cohen admitted that the owners did violate Facebook’s terms of service but said “it was not a major violation.”
The page had been scheduled to go back online Sunday but Facebook appealed to the High Court of Justice to delay implementation of the ruling pending appeal. As a consequence, the plaintiffs’ lawyer Guy Offir decided to sue Facebook for contempt of court.
“The case sets a worldwide precedent,” said Offir. Speaking to Tazpit Press Service (TPS) following the decision, Offir said, “In no other country in the world has a court ever ruled in favor of Facebook users. The judge said that Facebook and Google effectively serve as a fourth branch of government in the 21st century and added that their behavior affects the lives of “all of us, on all levels.
“The court’s decision is revolutionary because for the first time, Facebook is required to look at users as people with rights and not just as goods.”
“I can’t believe it happened, finally our Facebook page is again on air. I hope it will soon go back to the success of 2015,” Avi Lan said.
Lan said he was “very naive” when he joined Facebook in 2010, thinking that the social media giant would create a better world. He joined the Statusim Mezaizim group expecting a “real market square where all kind of people met, religious secular, leftist and rightist, young and old. The only interest was to smile and to help.”
Seven years later, Lan says Facebook today is much different, and it is a platform that divides people, rather than uniting them.
“If you are a leftist you will see on your feed only posts and pages that suit your interest; if you are religious your feed will be full of religious content. Today Facebook only divides people, but I hope Statusim Mezaizim will again become a Facebook page for all,” Lan said.