Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu believes Facebook is biased against conservative voters in Israel, and is thus harming his chances of reelection.
Netanyahu reportedly phoned Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg last week to say as much.
Ha’aretz reported that Netanyahu asked Zuckerberg to “ensure the fairness of the election and to act reasonably and fairly” as Israelis prepare to once again go to the polls on March 2.
According to the report, Zuckerberg avoided addressing Netanyahu’s assertion directly, but promised to remain “alert to the matter.”
Ahead of the previous Israeli election in September, Facebook suspended a chatbot operated by Netanyahu’s campaign after it started warning Israelis of the danger of voting for Arab candidates.
Like many American conservative outlets, right-wing Israeli pages on Facebook have also seen their reach drop significantly following changes to Facebook’s algorithm over the past several years.
When he appeared before Congress in 2018, Zuckerberg was asked point-blank if his massive social media was trying to silence conservative voices, to which he responded that even Holocaust deniers were permitted to post their views on Facebook.
But US conservatives remained unconvinced, noting that while anyone might be able to post on Facebook, the company’s policies and algorithms often resulted in those posts being seen by very few followers.
If the same is happening in Israel, that could spell trouble for Netanyahu, who, like US President Donald Trump, has come to increasingly rely on social media as a means of bypassing a left-leaning mainstream media and speaking directly to the Israeli public.