Facebook and Instagram Admit Censorship Violated Palestinian Rights

Facebook and Instagram Admit Censorship Violated Palestinian Rights

File photo via social media

Meta, the parent company of the social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, admitted in a report on Thursday that its speech policies had harmed fundamental human rights of Palestinian users during the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip in May 2021, in which nearly 250 Palestinians were killed, including 66 children.

“Meta’s actions in May 2021 appear to have had an adverse human rights impact … on the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination, and therefore on the ability of Palestinians to share information and insights about their experiences as they occurred,” reads a report published by independent consultancy Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) on behalf of Meta.

"The data reviewed indicated that Arabic content had greater over-enforcement, for example erroneously removing Palestinian voice, on a per user basis," the report says. "Data reviewed by BSR also showed that proactive detection rates of potentially violating Arabic content were significantly higher than proactive detection rates of potentially violating Hebrew content."

Last month, over a dozen civil society and human rights groups wrote an open letter protesting Meta’s delay in releasing the report, which the company had originally pledged to release in the first quarter of the year.

Earlier this month, Sada Social Center, a Ramallah-based social media watch group, documented more than 360 digital violations against Palestinian content in August, which included journalists’ and activists’ accounts in the largest number of violations so far this year.

The group said Meta came at the top in suppressing the Palestinian content on its platforms with 232 violations on Facebook and 53 violations on Instagram during August alone.

Meta justifies the restriction on Palestinian content on the alleged pretext of incitement, but its policies have meant hiding crimes against humanity carried out by Israeli occupation, as well as preventing the Palestinian narrative from spreading.

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