Is Facebook Targeting Jewish Children with the Gospel?

Local Messianic ministry behind the Facebook ads tells Israel Today that it has done nothing illegal

Facebook sued by Israelis
Sophie Gordon / Flash 90

A class action lawsuit in the amount of a 250 million Israeli Shekels ($71 million) is charging that Facebook allows Messianic organizations to target Jewish children in order to convert them to Christianity. 

Guy Ofir, a lawyer representing the class-action suit, told Israel’s Channel 12 News that Messianic organizations are exploiting Facebook to convert Jewish minors. “Facebook allows the Messianics to target their intended audiences according to age, sex and other personal information users post on the Facebook platform,” Ofir said. 

Facebook posts the following notice to anyone who receives the Messianic ad and wants to know why it appears on their news stream: “You are receiving this post because ‘Yeshua’ (the name of the Messianic website) wants to reach people 13-years-old and above who live in Israel. This information is based on your Facebook profile as well as places you have connected with on the Internet.”

Ofir complained that “Facebook even allows the missionaries to target children who are more inclined to have a mystical world view.” The Messianic Jews can now “bypass the parents and get into the child’s most intimate places, like their rooms, where we parents are not found. Anyone can enter their world on Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat and whisper in their ears for financial gain. More than that, these systems also know when our children are most sensitive and when they are upset or especially vulnerable and would be more open (to converting to Christianity),” Ofir claimed.

The class-action suit asserts that the Messianic “missionaries” are acting in a deceptive manner. “The organization’s advertisements were built in such a way that it is impossible to see Christian symbols. An orthodox Jewish child can see this and think that he is exposed to the materials of the Jewish religion he or she is familiar with,” Ofir said.

“We all raise our children according to the worldview and the values ​​we want them to know, and those who are with them in the most intimate moments, when we parents are not there, are Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat,” the advocate for the suit against Facebook said.

Eitan Barr, Director of One for Israel, the local Messianic ministry that publishes the evangelistic advertisements on Facebook, admits that they are using social media to target Israeli youth with the Gospel, but stressed to Israel Today that “what we promote on Facebook will never contain content that is illegal for youth.”

Adv. Ofir admits that the class-action case, if indeed it is eventually reviewed, will take years before it can be resolved in the courts.

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