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Campaign launched to end Facebook’s attack on Palestinian content

Palestinians said the social media giant was giving in to the Israeli government’s influence to suppress the Palestinian narrative and was adopting the occupiers' definition of what incitement is.

Journalists and activists in Palestine yesterday launched a social media campaign against Facebook’s censorship of Palestinian content.

Using the hashtag FBblocksPalestine, the drive hopes to bring to light “the threat posed by Facebook against Palestinian content, and to make it public, as well as reveal the double-standard policy of Facebook management in dealing with Israeli and Palestinian incitement on its site,” says Eyad Rifai, head of Sada Social Centre which is running the drive.

Sada Social Centre said Facebook infringements have dramatically increased, reaching 139 violations, including pages and accounts that have been deleted, removal of posts, bans on comment sections, page restrictions, live streaming and removes old posts with no warning or explanation.

The group issued a statement to protest such policies that violate international laws and basic human rights of freedom of speech, belief and journalism.

READ: Facebook suspends Netanyahu’s page after incitement against Arabs

According to Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency, the official media agency of the Palestinian Government, Sada Social Centre insists Palestinian content is in real danger, as Facebook has developed an algorithm which enables it to delete user posts if it includes the names of Palestinian factions such as, “Hamas, Jihad or Shahid.”

Rifai pointed out that Palestinian journalists and media personnel are “unable to practice their journalistic work as a result of Facebook’s unfair policy, which doesn’t pay attention to professional work standards. This puts the Palestinian narrative on Facebook in real danger.”

In September 2016, a Facebook delegation met Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan in order to improve “cooperation against incitement to terror and murder”, according to a statement released by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office at the time.

Palestinians said the social media giant was giving in to the Israeli government’s influence to suppress the Palestinian narrative and was adopting the occupiers’ definition of what incitement is.

READ: Facebook briefly blocks Netanyahu chatbot on election day

A Gaza-based journalist told the American news agency the Media Line that his Facebook account was suspended in September. “I was just doing my job when I lost my account.”

“Facebook management sees using Palestinian symbols, names or political parties as incitement to violence, regardless of the nature of the work of the publisher.”

Palestinian activist Muhammad Kareem, who is an editor and translator at Palestine Trend News Agency, also had his Facebook page blocked after eight years. He took to Twitter to support the #FBblocksPalestine campaign saying Facebook’s actions were like “deleting a history of someone”.

The use of the hashtag is the first step in the campaign which hopes to highlight the different ways to respond to the attack on Palestinian content.

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