One of the BBC’s defined public purposes is titled ‘Global Outlook’ and the BBC Trust’s interpretation of that remit can be seen below.
Details provided concerning clause b) – “Enable individuals to participate in the global debate on significant international issues” – include the following declarations of intent:
“BBC Trust: “The BBC should inform conversation and debate, providing forums where its international audiences can debate issues they find important.” […]
The nature of digital technology also means improved opportunities to connect with audiences – and BBC Global News will consider carefully the various access needs of its diverse audiences and continue to seek ways to give voice to its many listeners, viewers and users. From emails read out by presenters, to questions put to world leaders, to chatrooms and websites where people can debate and engage in dialogue free from fear and censorship, the BBC will make space available to support free speech and informed democracy.” [emphasis added]
The promotion of dialogue and free speech is of course a commendable aspiration but unfortunately, all too often BBC message boards become a forum for hate speech, dehumanization and delegitimisation – at least where Israelis are concerned.
A post promoting Lyse Doucet’s recent programme ‘Children of the Gaza War’ which appeared on the BBC News Facebook account on July 7th was viewed by over 450,000 people and generated over a thousand comments.
Among the comments left standing by the BBC were several promoting the notion that Israel carried out ‘genocide’, ‘extermination’, ‘slaughter’, ‘rape’ and deliberately targets Muslims.
Numerous comments called for the expulsion of Israelis from their country.
Violence against Israelis and their supporters was advocated.
Israel was accused of creating ISIS and compared to that group.
Sderot was described as a ‘settlement’ on ‘occupied land’ in numerous comments.
Antisemitic conflation between Jews and Israelis appeared.
Antisemitic themes of ‘Jewish power’ were also left standing.
Israelis were dehumanised.
The BBC cannot possibly claim that this sort of display falls into the category of ‘informing conversation and debate’. Not only do many of the comments on that thread distort reality and promote falsehoods and conspiracy theories but others clearly spread antisemitic discourse and hate speech.
Regrettably – as has been documented here on numerous occasions – this is far from the first time that BBC Facebook pages have been allowed to become a forum for the promotion of delegitimisation, hate speech and even incitement to violence.
And once again the BBC’s failure to tackle this recurring issue suggests that it is apparently still unperturbed by that fact.