Volunteers’ group targets Facebook for suppressing Palestinian content

Social media applications "Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp" are displayed on a smart phone screen on 4 October 2021 [Erçin Ertürk/Anadolu Agency]
Social media applications ‘Instagram, Facebook and WhatsApp’ are displayed on a smartphone screen on 4 October 2021 

A Palestinian group of volunteers that monitors Facebook has raised an alarm that the social media platform was increasingly blocking and suppressing the content posted by Palestinian journalists, activists and influencers, Anadolu News Agency reports.

In a report, the volunteers’ group, Sada Social, has mentioned that Facebook had limited the reach of the accounts of the Palestinian influencers recently when they were highlighting the issues of Shaikh Jarrah neighbourhood and Gaza Strip.

According to the statistics issued by the group, Facebook had banned the users from reaching the hashtag “Al-Aqsa” in 2021, where many activists were writing about the events happening in Palestine.

“Facebook and Instagram had blocked as many as 1,500 posts in 2021. Almost 44 per cent of posts were posted by journalists and authentic media institutions,” said Iyad Refai, a social media specialist and the Director of Sada Social.

He said that access to the accounts that covered the incidents was restricted through algorithms that identify the digital content, adding that new words were added to expand the restrictive practices.

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Facebook catches the words like “to support the Palestine cause” and other words like these, and then blocks the account. In addition, the restrictive practices have been expanded to the names of Palestinian factions, leaders, or martyrs, in addition to any pictures or videos related to this.

“After each violation, we contact Facebook to clarify that we have the right to tell our story. All the discussions with them are about the importance to have a clear and certain adoption of standards of the concepts about violence and hatred since Facebook policies do not follow the UN standards about violence and hatred,” said Refai.

In its annual statement, Sada Social said, in contrast to the efforts of defenders of the right to free expression and a sense of security in digital space, in 2021 there was a growing tendency to impose coercive powers on people’s practices in digital space.

Refai emphasised that, despite repeated calls to Facebook to put an end to the bias shown against the Palestinian content, there has been an increase in attacks on media platforms during the coverage of the recent war and events in Jerusalem. Palestinian news pages like Maydan Al Quds were finally pulled down last year in November.

“It is a US company and US law defines the Palestinian struggle as acts of terrorism,” he added.

According to the annual statistics released by the Sada Social, more than 390 Palestinians were detained by the Israeli forces and exposed to interrogation because of highlighting issues related to Palestine on Facebook.

Is Facebook censoring Palestine? - Cartoon [Sabaaneh/MiddleEastMonitor]
Is Facebook censoring Palestine? – Cartoon 

READ: Israeli firm develops facial recognition technology for soldiers

(Source / 05.02.2022)

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