Palestinians sound the alarm over Facebook content suppression
Facebook continues to censor Palestinians and supportive voices as the Israeli occupation continues to oppress and kill Palestinians on a daily basis.
Palestinian journalists have raised concerns about what they call the unjust suppression of their content on Facebook, a serious issue several rights groups have already shed the light on.
On December 4, Palestine TV correspondent Christine Rinawi posted a video on her Facebook account in which Israeli occupation forces were seen intentionally shooting an unarmed Palestinian on the ground. The Palestinian was left martyred at the scene.
Shortly after she posted her video, Rinawi, who has nearly 400,000 followers, noticed it had been removed from her account.
This was not her first experience with Facebook's repression, and Rinawi said her account had already been restricted after she shared footage of an Israeli attack on Palestinians in al-Quds last November.
On its account, Facebook claimed that it intervened in both cases because the posts violated the platform's standards.
A spokesperson for Facebook's parent company Meta said its policies "were designed to give everyone a voice while keeping them safe on our apps."
Cases of pro-Israeli occupation bias at Facebook have simmered for years and were renewed in October when Human Rights Watch said the platform had "suppressed content posted by Palestinians and their supporters speaking out about human rights issues in Palestine."
Furthermore, Palestinian reporters have cited multiple incidents that they describe as censorship.
Maydan Quds News, a popular online news outlet, may feel obliged to fire reporters after its main Facebook page with 1.2 million followers was deleted, a source who requested anonymity told AFP.
Silencing the truth
According to the Palestinian social media monitoring center, Sada Social, 600 Palestinian accounts or pro-Palestinian Facebook posts were restricted or deleted in 2021, which is a record. The center helped launch a social media campaign called "Facebook Censors Jerusalem".
Rama Youssef, an al-Quds-based journalist who volunteered for the campaign, said Facebook hews to an Israeli point of view and has "double standards".
The Arab Center Washington DC think-tank assured that the Israeli occupation authorities also push to censor "tens of thousands of posts and accounts" that support the struggle of Palestinians.
Meta refused to answer AFP questions about requests from the Israeli occupation authorities to do so.
Facebook is censoring discussion of Palestinian rights: HRW
Facebook has wrongfully removed and suppressed content by Palestinians and their supporters, including human rights abuse incidents committed by "Israel" against Palestinians during the Seif Al-Quds battle (the battle of the Sword of Jerusalem), a Human Rights Watch report said.
HRW noted that the tech giant did acknowledge errors and that it made attempts to correct them; however, the NGO labeled those acknowledgments and attempts 'insufficient,' saying they do not address the scale of reported content restrictions, nor do they explain why said restrictions occurred in the first place.
"Israel" has a cybersecurity unit, the Israeli Cyber Unit, and that unit has been notorious for making appeals directly to social media platforms based on their own terms of service rather than going through the legal process of filing a court order based on Israeli criminal law.
Facebook has never disputed this claim. However, it told HRW in a letter it allegedly has "one single global process for handling government requests for content removal."