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Facebook, Instagram Violated Palestinian Rights During Gaza War

Facebook, Instagram Violated Palestinian Rights During Gaza War
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By Staff, Agencies

Facebook and Instagram’s policies during the ‘Israeli’ regime’s attacks on Gaza last year harmed the fundamental human rights of Palestinians, according to a report commissioned by the platforms’ parent company, Meta.

The study, which was carried out by consultancy Business for Social Responsibility [BSR], was obtained by The Intercept, ahead of its publication later this week.

In May 2021, Meta was widely accused of censorship and bias during the Zionist assault on Gaza, which killed 256 Palestinians, 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,” the report said.

Additionally, the Middle East Eye reported last year that concerns had been raised about deleted social media content and account suspensions in relation to the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied East al-Quds, where an ‘Israeli’ crackdown on protests against forcible evictions sparked the escalation in violence. 

According to the report, Meta deleted Arabic content related to last year’s violence at a much greater rate than Hebrew-language posts. This was found among posts reviewed by both automated services and employees.

BSR attributed the difference in treatment to a lack of expertise. It claimed that Meta lacked staff who understood other cultures, languages and histories - despite having over 70,000 employees and $24bn in cash reserves.

“Potentially violating Arabic content may not have been routed to content reviewers who speak or understand the specific dialect of the content,” the report stated.

During the ‘Israeli’ assault, Palestinian and Arab social media users revived an old Arabic font in an attempt to beat Facebook’s algorithm and express their support for Palestine.

The BSR report fell short of accusing Meta of deliberate bias, pointing instead to “unintentional bias” leading to “different human rights impacts on Palestinian and Arabic-speaking users.”

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