Social Media Governance Policy
1. Purpose of guidance
To make the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine (LDFP) social media channels as effective and professional as possible as a form of advocacy for, and education about, human rights and social justice in the arena of Palestine and Israel.
These guidelines sit alongside the Liberal Democrats’ social media policy and LDFP’s wider communications strategy and policy. Our current communications routes are:
- posts in Lib Dem Voice
- website – blogs, letters and reports
- social media – Facebook and Twitter
We apply similar principles and approaches across all our communication channels. However social media, by their nature, require us to be relatively instant and responsive, and we have adapted our approach to social media accordingly.
The LDFP committee is responsible for approving these guidelines and reviewing them at least annually.
These guidelines should be read in conjunction with:
- the Liberal Democrats’ Constitution
- the Liberal Democrats’ Code of Conduct
- the LDFP Constitution
- the LDFP Position Statement
- the Liberal Democrats’ Social Media Policy
- the Liberal Democrats’ accepted definition of antisemitism
The Liberal Democrats’ constitution is the framework from which all our actions as Liberal Democrats are derived; therefore, it underpins our communications guidelines.
2.1. The Liberal Democrats’ Constitution begins:
‘The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full.’
2.2 LDFP position statement
The Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine exist to fight for the rights of the Palestinian People through the medium of the Liberal Democrat Party. The party’s core values of liberalism, internationalism and support for the indivisibility of human rights and the rule of law make it the natural home in mainstream British politics for those determined to support the Palestinian call for justice and their entitlements under international law. (add link to full document on our website – when up and running again)
2.3 LDFP Constitution Aims and Objectives (section 2 and 3)
- We hold that human rights are universal and indivisible
and should be upheld without exception. This is as applicable in Israel and the
Occupied Palestinian Territory which
consists of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (the ‘OPT’) as it
- We advocate the establishment of a democratic state of Palestine living in peace and security alongside Israel in the OPT in accordance with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. We recognise and accept the democratic decisions of the Palestinian People and call on all parties to recognise such elections.
- We oppose all forms of racism, including anti-Semitism, anti-Arab racism or Islamophobia in any circumstance and we categorically and unequivocally condemn all violence and use of force against civilians no matter who the victims or the perpetrators may be.
- We reject, and will challenge, accusations of anti-Semitism levelled against party members, organisations or other individuals within and outside the Liberal Democrat Party merely because they express concern at Israeli government policies to its own non-Jewish citizens and its programmes and methods in the OPT.
- We call for an end to the Israeli occupation and the evacuation of all Israeli settlements, save for equitable arrangements mutually agreed by the negotiating parties and which are not influenced by the duress inherent in occupation.
- We support a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem in accordance with international law and the relevant UN resolutions.
- We call for a shared Jerusalem open to all faiths, serving as the capital of two States, providing for the fulfilment of the political aspirations of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples.
- We support full acceptance of Israel by all Arab and Muslim States and normalised diplomatic and economic relations throughout the region as an integral part of an overall peace settlement.
- To inform,
educate and positively influence party members and the Party leadership so that
together we ensure the Party’s Middle East policy places a priority on the
right of the Palestinian people to achieve a life of peace, well-being and
security with its neighbours.
- To assist the party in strengthening its links with UK-based Arab businesses and NGOs by entering dialogue with them and engaging with Arab communities across the UK.
- To provide briefings to MPs and MEP’s on developments in the Middle East including lines to take, Q&A briefs and other material.
- To develop, broaden interest and expand membership of the LDFP throughout the Party by, although not exclusively, organising fringe events at Party Conferences.
- To defend the cause of human rights and achievement of sovereignty for the Palestinian People in the media, Parliament and Party, where the achievement of this core principle is undermined.
- To liaise
with Palestinian politicians and other national representatives and delegations
and to inform Party leadership and members of the outcome of such contacts.
- To maintain a positive and professional dialogue and exchange with other Party and parliamentary groups working for peace in the Middle East.
3. LDFP specific policy on unacceptable media content
LDFP only posts material that is fact-based and soundly argued. It does not post material containing antisemitic, other racist or defamatory content.
LDFP acts within the party’s policy of adopting both the non-legally binding International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism, with the illustrative examples, and the Home Affairs Select Committee’s two caveats to the IHRA definition.
The examples section of the IHRA document is written in the conditional sense, i.e. the examples “may serve as illustrations” and “could, taking into account the overall
context…” be construed as antisemitic, which is consistent with the highly contested
nature of debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Therefore, specific remarks have to be considered in their context and by the language used, before they are judged to be antisemitic on the grounds that they appear to match one of the examples.
There are 11 examples, some of which are so blatantly antisemitic that it is very difficult
to imagine context changing that. However, others are such that statements appearing to match them might or might not be seen as antisemitic, depending on the context.
The basic test of whether a criticism of Israel is antisemitic or not is in the language used. If the language refers to what Israeli governments do or did, or what Zionists historically did, and doesn’t ascribe the actions to Jews or Jewish people because they are Jews,
then the presumption must be that it isn’t antisemitic without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent. It might be well or badly argued, temperate or intemperate, but that does not make it antisemitic.
(The IHRA document and the Home Affairs Select Committee caveats are in the attached appendix.)
4. LDFP general policy against all forms of racism, including antisemitism
We interpret Clause 2.3 of LDFP’s constitution as obliging LDFP to be vigilant against all forms of racism, including instances of antisemitism that are not clearly covered by the
IHRA document as they do not necessarily fall into the class of “hatred toward Jews” which the definition cites; or match any of the illustrative examples. Obvious instances would be prejudice, discrimination and disdain, all of which are less than hatred. For instance, if prejudice against Jews were to manifest itself in refusing employment to a Jew, that would appear to fall outside the scope of the IHRA definition but we would consider it to fall inside Clause 2.3 of the LDFP constitution.
5. LDFP general media content policy
- User responsibilities
Our website and
social media accounts will ask users to interact respectfully. Our website and
social media accounts will adopt /adapt the statement used by Lib Dem Voice
… ‘welcomes comments from everyone; we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy (with link). Please respect it and all readers of this site.’
We will not accept the following behaviours from users posting content (for example):
- abusive; violently graphic; defamatory or obscene;
racist; discriminatory; antisemitic;
Islamophobic (the all-party parliamentary group definition is “Islamophobia is
rooted in racism and is a type of racism that targets expressions of Muslimness
or perceived Muslimness.”)
- fraudulent, deceptive or misleading
- in violation of any intellectual property rights
- promoting other social media channels, websites or content considered spam (defined by the Oxford Living Dictionary as ‘irrelevant or unsolicited messages sent over the internet, typically to a large number of users, for the purposes of advertising, phishing, spreading malware etc).
- where the aim of the post is to start a fight
These prohibitions will be published on the website and social media accounts with the consequences (including warning, blocking, banning and escalation) made clear. In the first instance, users will be directed to this if they behave in an unacceptable manner.
The LDFP committee reviews and agrees what if any words should be blocked on our social media accounts. Posts and comments containing these words are automatically blocked in order that the post can be reviewed and approved before being made public. (Currently these include ‘Nazi’, Holocaust, Zio.) This list will be reviewed and agreed by the committee at least annually.
5.2 LDFP responsibilities
Challenging users’ postings in the event of the behaviours listed in section 5.1, through actions such as blocking, banning, or deleting content is normally carried out by a committee member. Advice and confirmation will be sought from a fellow committee member where there is any doubt. Where escalation is required, for example if a comment potentially warrants formal disciplinary measures, it will be raised with the committee chair.
Our communications approach for reports, articles, newsletters, etc. is for the writer to ensure that at least one other person reviews content. Where appropriate, this will also apply to our social media postings such as blogs and articles; (this is not expected or required for short social media comments).
5.3 Cross posting between Facebook and Twitter
LDFP’s normal daily practice is first to post on Facebook. We reflect on the origins of any article that we are linking to, its veracity and its relevance as well as being careful about
the language used. Our posts are in accordance with the IHRA definition with the Home Affairs Committee caveats. Our social media accounts are set up so that Facebook
automatically cross posts to Twitter but not vice versa.
International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
Working definition of antisemitism
“On 26 May 2016, the Plenary in Bucharest decided to:
To guide IHRA in its work, the following examples may serve as illustrations: Manifestations might include the targeting of the state of Israel, conceived as a Jewish collectivity. However, criticism of Israel similar to that levelled against any other country cannot be regarded as antisemitic.
Antisemitism frequently charges Jews with conspiring to harm humanity, and it is often used to blame Jews for “why things go wrong.” It is expressed in speech, writing, visual forms and action, and employs sinister stereotypes and negative character traits. Contemporary examples of antisemitism in public life, the media, schools, the workplace, and in the religious sphere could, taking into account the overall context, include, but are not limited to:
Calling for, aiding, or justifying the killing or harming of Jews in the name of a radical ideology or an extremist view of religion.
Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.
Accusing Jews as a people of being responsible for real or imagined wrongdoing committed by a single Jewish person or group, or even for acts committed by non-Jews.
Denying the fact, scope, mechanisms (e.g. gas chambers) or intentionality of the genocide of the Jewish people at the hands of National Socialist Germany and its supporters and accomplices during World War II (the Holocaust).
Accusing the Jews as a people, or Israel as a state, of inventing or exaggerating the Holocaust. Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide,
than to the interests of their own nations.
Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
Applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.
Using the symbols and images associated with classic antisemitism (e.g., claims of Jews killing Jesus or blood libel) to characterize Israel or Israelis.
Drawing comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis. Holding Jews collectively responsible for actions of the state of Israel.
Antisemitic acts are criminal when they are so defined by law (for example, denial of the Holocaust or distribution of antisemitic materials in some countries).
acts are antisemitic when the targets of attacks, whether they are people or
property – such as buildings, schools, places of worship and cemeteries – are
selected because they are, or are perceived
to be, Jewish or linked to Jews.
Antisemitic discrimination is the denial to Jews of opportunities or services available to others and is illegal in many countries.”
Excerpts from Home Affairs Committee Inquiry report into antisemitism
16 October 2016
We broadly accept the IHRA definition but propose two additional clarifications to ensure that freedom of speech is maintained in the context of discourse about Israel and Palestine, without allowing antisemitism to permeate any debate. The definition should include the following statements:
- It is not antisemitic to criticise the Government of Israel, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
- It is not antisemitic to hold the Israeli Government to the same standards as other liberal democracies, or to take a particular interest in the Israeli Government’s policies or actions, without additional evidence to suggest antisemitic intent.
We recommend that the IHRA definition, with our additional caveats, should be formally adopted by the UK Government, law enforcement agencies and all political parties, to assist them in determining whether or not an incident or discourse can be regarded as antisemitic.