Earlier this year, an Israeli site wanted to advertise its offerings to readers in Jerusalem. This being 2018, and all of advertising now held exclusively in Facebook’s claws, the site contacted the social media behemoth and paid for a campaign. When the time came to drill down on the ads’ geo-targeting, however, something strange happened: Facebook wouldn’t let them select any Jerusalem neighborhood east of the Green Line.
“Whoever is living in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood has definitely seen our ads,” a spokesperson for the site told the Israeli press this week, “but anyone living in Har Homa, right next door, has never come across them.”
Puzzled by Facebook’s decision to define Israel’s borders, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Tzipi Hotovely, wrote to the company demanding an explanation. “It’s inconceivable that Facebook takes neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem off the map,” she wrote. “We cannot consent to a situation in which a commercial corporation determines the borders of the state of Israel.”
Facebook was quick to reply, apologize, and correct the mistake. Still, according to the Israeli newspaper Yisrael Ha’Yom, Facebook still refuses to place ads targeting Israelis living in Judea, Samaria, or the Golan Heights.