Report: Meta had ‘Adverse Human Rights Impact’ during Israeli Bombing of Gaza

Meta has repeatedly deprived Palestinians of freedom of expression. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

An independent study commissioned by Meta has shown that the social media giant has repeatedly deprived Palestinians of freedom of expression, treated Arabic language content more harshly than Hebrew content, and blocked Palestinian journalists from their platforms.

The parent company of both Facebook and Instagram found “a lack of oversight at Meta that allowed content policy errors with significant consequences to occur”, when studying their response to Israel’s brutal assault on Gaza in May 2021.

“Meta’s actions in May 2021 appear to have had an adverse human rights impact on the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination”, said the report’s findings published on Friday.

Notably, the #AlAqsa hashtag was added to a block list by a Meta employee, which resulted in #AlAqsa being hidden from search results.

Al Aqsa refers to the third most holy site in Islam in the center of Jerusalem which came under repeated attack by Israeli forces during Ramadan last year.

The report, however, “did not identify intentional bias at Meta writ large or among employees individually.”

Despite this, the BSR study highlighted issues such as hate speech detection software that was significantly developed for Arabic content – but had not been implemented for Hebrew.

As international attention focussed on the forced expulsions of Palestinians from Jerusalem and Israel’s brutal 11-day bombing of Gaza, many social media users accused Facebook of censoring content on the platform and Facebook-owned Instagram.

In late May 2021, at least 30 Facebook employees filed an internal appeal seeking the restoration of content on the platforms which they said was improperly blocked or removed. A month later, 200 Facebook workers signed a petition urging the platform to take action on the censorship.

(The New Arab, PC, SOCIAL)

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