Facebook lets users decide who has the Golan Heights

As Facebook ramps up its growth abroad, it will have to contend with more highly-charged political conflicts. One of them is how to manage disputed territories like the Golan Heights, a mountainous region connecting Israel to Syria that was captured by Israel in 1967.

Until a few weeks ago, if you lived in Katzrin (also called Qasrin), a larger town in the region, it meant you lived in Syria according to your Facebook profile.picture-272

Not so anymore. People in the same town can now say they live in Israel after users formed a 2,600-person strong group called “Facebook, Golan residents live in Israel, not Syria” to lobby for the change.
picture-253Already, Arab news agencies Al Quds al Arabi and Al Bawaba are reporting that Syria may demand a boycott of the social networking site. Facebook already uses this approach with The West Bank and will probably continue it with other disputed regions like Kashmir. (The company skirts the “One China” issue — whether Taiwan is an independent nation or part of China — because the region is just called “Taiwan”).

As the world’s biggest social network, Facebook has had to deal with a long line of political or identity-based conflicts. It has allowed Holocaust denial groups to persist on the site, arguing that the importance of free speech outweighed the offensiveness of anything the groups created. However, it also banned neo-Nazi pages in Europe, saying that the pages were used to incite violence.

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