Control of the Golan Heights may be disputed between Syria and Israel, but as far Facebook was concerned, there was no argument: if you lived there, your profile said you lived in Syria. This was true even if you lived in the two-thirds of the Golan’s 690 square miles that Israel has claimed and de facto governed since the 1967 War. This state of affairs upset Toronto-based nonprofit Honest Reporting, especially because, in the Golan, the personal is also political: the area is considered strategically crucial. So the group started a protest—led, naturally, by a Facebook page titled, “Facebook, Golan Residents Live in Israel, not Syria”—and, what do you know? On Wednesday, Honest Reporting noted that Facebook changed its policy so that Golan residents can now select cities listed as being in Israel as their hometowns. (The West Bank operates similarly in this cyberworld.)
“We deal with the listings for disputed territories on a case-by-case basis, and with Golan Heights we decided a dual listing made sense,” a Facebook spokesperson told Tablet Magazine yesterday. “It’s fair to say that we listen to our users and to feedback they give us, but we approach these decisions carefully, and only make changes where it makes sense to do so, as it did in this instance.” We’re sure that the 39,000 folks—according to Wikipedia—who live in Israel-controlled Golan appreciate that.