September 17, 2019 / 2:14 PM / a month ago

Facebook blocks Netanyahu chatbot on election day

JERUSALEM, Sept 17 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at Facebook on Tuesday after the social network blocked a “chatbot” from his right-wing Likud party’s account for violating election day rules.

“They took a 100 kg hammer and brought it down on a fly, because it is a Likud fly,” Netanyahu said in a video posted on social media. “They shut down our means of communication with our voters.”

Israel’s leading YNET news website said the chatbot, a type of automated software that is able to simulate a conversation with a user, had posted results from an election poll on Tuesday while Israelis were out voting, a contravention of election rules.

The problematic posts were apparently taken down and no longer appeared on Netanyahu’s Facebook page.

Netanyahu appeared to play down the violation, saying: “Someone published a small poll on Facebook.”

Asked about its intervention on Netanyahu’s account, Facebook said in a statement it works with “elections commissions around the world to help protect the integrity of elections.”

“Our policies clearly state developers are required to comply with all applicable laws in the country where their app is available. We have restricted this bot for violating local law until the polling stations are closed tonight,” it said.

Netanyahu, who is battling for his political career, has been trying to mobilize his base by warning them of low supporter turnout. (Reporting by Dan Williams and Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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