People who are pro-Palestine are in danger and social media is responsible. I don’t make such a claim lightly.
Social media giants are already being accused of apparent bias in the conflict. Elon Musk has just announced new censorship for Palestinians. Meta and TikTok are censoring pro-Palestine content disproportionately. Posts that shed light on the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza are being suppressed with explanations such as “explicit content”, while videos debunking the lies of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) are being taken down on the grounds of “glorifying terrorists”. Those who try to counter the pro-Israel narrative by using the “comments” section find themselves restricted very quickly under the pretext of “community protection”.
However, I assured myself, if I am facing censorship, then same probably goes for pro-Israel accounts as well. Maybe Instagram is being protective and vigilant in order to de-escalate the situation, only to discover later that this was not the case for the “other side”.
I came across an Israeli influencer. It was no surprise that he was working for the IDF. At first, I was expecting typical propaganda videos with IDF myths full of emotional appeal but his profile was different. His posts threatened pro-Palestine protestors and activists.
For example, he asked his followers for the personal details of a boy photographed trying to burn the Israeli flag, so that he could make him “regret” his action. When I opened the comment section, it was a criminal hub.
Someone with the username @simplecooking identified the boy and was helping everyone who intended to hurt him or “ruin” his life. Multiple users vowed to get him expelled from his school or university. Some were committed to make sure that he never gets employed anywhere and gets fired if he already has a job. Many were determined to get him arrested by the FBI. Some threatened to “teach him a lesson”, suggesting physical abuse. Another one even suggested placing a bounty on his head. One user shared his family details, which was alarming for me.
This boy did nothing to be labelled as a terrorist. He did not blow up a building. He did not kill anyone. All he did was to tear down an Israeli flag in a democratic country. If someone can burn the holy book of more than a billion people in the name of freedom of speech, why is it a problem to burn the flag of an apartheid state? How is that anti-Semitism?
It’s important to keep in mind that people have been killed in hate crimes this past month amid the Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza
This young pro-Palestine protestor had no idea that an Israeli influencer was sharing his picture and people were planning to make his life miserable. And I had no means to let him know what was being plotted against him. The least I could do was to report this post and threatening comments to Instagram. I also urged my followers to do the same. It was important to keep in mind that people have been killed in hate crimes this past month amid the Israeli war against the Palestinians in Gaza. I waited for Instagram’s response.
After six hours, I received a notification saying “We didn’t remove this post because it doesn’t go against our Guidelines”. That’s right. Posts putting the lives of people at risk do not go against Mark Zuckerberg’s guidelines.
It turns out that this influencer was not the only one doing this, and this young protestor was not the only target. Apparently, many Zionist Instagram accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers are actively posting pictures and videos of pro-Palestine activists and demonising them with captions like, “These are the people who support Hamas, these are the people who support ISIS”.
Angry Zionists have taken over many comment sections asking for the details of these activists to teach them a lesson.
How they intend to do this varies. Some people hurl abuse on social media (to a point where they end up deleting their social media handles). Others hack data, get people fired from their jobs, expelled them from academic institutions or deported. Some individuals go even further. They can physically harm pro-Palestine protestors, and even kill them.
My fears about this are not irrational. The Zionist bloc is going overboard.
There is a whole website dedicated to compiling a list of pro-Palestine Americans — Canarymission.org — which contains profiles of such citizens with all their social media handles, the institutions they study in, their work place (sometimes their location too). It is really sick.
Why is it acceptable to social media platforms to put so many people at risk simply on the basis of a difference of opinion? How can someone dedicate an entire website to ensure that so many people are vulnerable to attack just because they side with the people of occupied Palestine? And how come Meta and TikTok have absolutely no problem with such dangerous content on their platforms?
America already has a pandemic of maniacs shooting and killing people on the basis of religion and race. American Muslims, Asians and left-wingers are often subjected to violence. Islamophobia is a big problem in the US and other countries of the Zionist bloc. And now this website and social media are providing hate-filled fanatics with the means to spread hate and threaten their next targets.
A six-year-old Palestinian American and a Pakistani American doctor’s child have already been killed, and three Palestinian men were shot just this week. These attacks did not happen in a vacuum. Someone definitely shared their pictures online in a similar way.
At this highly sensitive time, it is crucial for social media giants to enforce their community protection guidelines. They need to broaden the implementation of “community protection” to other groups. If “from the river to the sea” is perceived as supporting genocide, then these hateful and threatening posts also do not belong on these platforms. Moreover, it is time for Canarymission.com to be taken down as well.
UPDATE: This article was updated on December 3 2023, to highlight that the three Palestinian men were shot, not killed.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.