The’#FacebookCensorsJerusalem’ campaign was created to protest what journalists and activists consider censorship by the social media giant of Palestinian content
Palestinian journalists have raised the alarm over what they describe as unjust suppression of their content on Facebook, a claim backed by rights groups but rejected by the social media giant.
On December 4, Palestine TV correspondent Christine Rinawi posted a video on her Facebook account in which Israeli security forces were seen shooting a Palestinian on the ground, killing him. He had just carried out a knife attack on an Israeli civilian.
This was not her first experience with Facebook’s enforcement, and Rinawi said her account had already been restricted after she shared footage of a November attack in Jerusalem.
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”.
Allegations of pro-Israeli bias at Facebook have simmered for years and were renewed in October when Human Rights Watch, a vocal Israel critic, said the platform had “suppressed content posted by Palestinians and their supporters speaking out about human rights issues in Israel and Palestine”.
One popular online news outlet, Maydan Quds News, may even have to fire reporters after its main Facebook page with 1.2 million followers was deleted, a source who requested anonymity told AFP.
It also strives to address “any enforcement errors as quickly as possible so people can keep sharing what matters to them”.
– ‘Silencing the voice’ –
Rama Youssef, a Jerusalem-based journalist who volunteered for the campaign, said Facebook hews to an Israeli point of view and has “double standards”.
Meta did not answer AFP questions about requests from the Israeli government.
Israeli officials have also accused various social media platforms, including Facebook, of failing to curb anti-Semitism.
– Call for more transparency –
He said the site appeared to target the word “shahid”, Arabic for martyr, which Palestinians frequently use to describe people killed by Israeli forces, including those who carried out attacks.
But he said censoring the term wholesale ignored the wider context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But it said it reviews posts according to its own policies, as well as “local laws and international human rights standards”.
He said he obtained from Facebook “promises to improve the working mechanisms of the algorithms so as to differentiate between journalistic content and ordinary content”, but he feared they offered “temporary rather than radical solutions”.