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Facebook accused of blocking Palestinian activists’ accounts

June 8, 2020 at 2:12 pm

A mobile phone screen displays the Facebook Messenger logo in front of a computer screen showing the Facebook sign on 27 February, 2020 [Ali Balıkçı/Anadolu Agency]

Facebook has blocked accounts belonging to Palestinian activists, bloggers and journalists, violating the right to freedom of opinion, according to the London-based think tank ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies.

The social media giant is closing millions of accounts in the Middle East and North Africa region, the NGO has warned, calling it an early sign of failure of the company’s newly appointed oversight board.

“The Facebook oversight board should assess the company’s policies in the Middle East, particularly whether the geographic location of its offices impacts human rights-related practices,” it said.

“Mass blocking of Facebook silences voices and restricts freedom of expression,” it added, and calling on Facebook management “to stop blocking bloggers’, journalists’ and activists’ accounts, protect the right to opinion and expression guaranteed in international conventions and treaties, and adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits suppression of dissenting voices.”

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Palestinians have for years complained that Facebook is targeting their accounts, deleting them without notice.

Last October, journalists and activists in Palestine launched a social media campaign against Facebook accusing it of censoring Palestinian content in cooperation with Sada Social Centre, a group that monitors social media violations against Palestinian content.

Al Jazeera noted that “in late 2016, Facebook signed an agreement with Israel’s Justice Ministry in which it promised to “monitor” content on Palestinian accounts”.

It said the attacks it is facing are part of Facebook’s targeting of Palestinian media organisations and aimed to please Israel which seeks to stop the occupation’s crimes from being exposed on an international basis.