HRW: Facebook, Instagram repressing pro-Palestine content

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- An investigation by Human Rights Watch has stated that Facebook and Instagram repressed Palestinian content, including documentation of Israeli human rights violations, during the Israeli crackdown on native Palestinians in May this year.

“Facebook has wrongfully removed and suppressed content by Palestinians and their supporters, including about human rights abuses carried out in Israel and Palestine during the May 2021 hostilities,” HRW said on Friday.

The new report adds to pressure on the world’s largest social network after a whistleblower told US lawmakers on Tuesday that the company needs to be regulated as it promotes hate speech.

During the latest escalation between the occupation state and the resistance, many Palestinians took to Facebook and other social media platforms, such as Instagram — which is owned by Facebook — to document what they viewed as violations of human rights by Israeli forces.

However, observers noticed that engagement on their content was low, and in some cases, posts were removed entirely from the networks. Palestinian news accounts, even blue checked ones like QNN’s were targeted as well.

Social media platforms at the time claimed the reason was a technical error. However, HRW said the “company’s [Facebook’s] acknowledgment of errors and attempts to correct some of them are insufficient and do not address the scale and scope of reported content restrictions.”

And they do not “adequately explain why they occurred in the first place”, the watchdog added.

In one instance, HRW said, Instagram deleted a photograph of a destroyed building, which was captioned: “This is a photo of my family’s building before it was struck by Israeli missiles on Saturday May 15, 2021. We have three apartments in this building.”

In another case, Instagram “removed the reposting of a political cartoon whose message was that Palestinians are oppressed and not fighting a religious war with Israel.”

In one perplexing instance, Instagram removed a screenshot of headlines and photos from three New York Times opinion articles for which the Instagram user added commentary that urged Palestinians to “never concede” their rights.

HRW said that the post “did not transform the material in any way that could reasonably be construed as incitement to violence or hatred.”

All those uploads were removed for containing hate speech or symbols of hate speech.

“These removals suggest that Instagram is restricting freedom of expression on matters of public interest,” HRW said.

In other instances, Facebook attached warnings of “upsetting” content to some posts that raised awareness of human rights issues and did not include violence or racism.

Pressure to tighten regulation on social media platforms has mounted with the revelations of Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who said it fuels division and harms children.

(Source / 09.10.2021)

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