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Social media suppresses up to 80% pro-Palestine content

December 24, 2020 at 2:12 pm

Logos of popular social media apps on 12 January 2020 [Raşit Aydoğan/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian social media posts have been suppressed by as much as 80 per cent, a new study by Sada Social Centre has found. Details of the worrying scale of this anti-Palestinian censorship was uncovered by the NGO which monitors social media content related to Palestine and campaigns for free expression.

Experts spoken to by the organisation said that the sudden increase in the suppression of content follows the normalisation of some Arab countries with Israel in recent months. Sadia’s finding confirm those of ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies. In June, the London-based think tank discovered that Facebook had blocked accounts belonging to Palestinian activists, bloggers and journalists, violating their right to voice opinions freely.

Palestinians have for years complained that Facebook is targeting their accounts, deleting them without notice. The latest suspicions about content suppression were raised when Sada was inundated with complaints from Palestinians and Arabs with accounts onFacebook regarding a sharp drop of between 50 and 80 per cent in the number of people accessing their posts. Most of the people who complained are said to have millions of followers on social media.

An investigation revealed that these platforms were publishing content only in Arabic that highlighted the normalisation of Arab countries with the Zionist state. Social media experts confirmed that the suppression was planned and orchestrated. Apparently this can be done relatively easily through the management of data algorithms in Facebook, which isn’t always easy to detect.

A list of Palestinian media agencies which experienced content suppression was published by Sada Social Centre earlier this year when it identified 45 cases of content suppression in a single month. While Facebook is said to be the most frequent offender,Tik Tok also censors Palestine-related content. The organisation has asked Facebook to clarify why this is happening.

It is also calling on international human rights bodies to follow up on this issue and speak out against the threat it poses to freedom of expression.

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