Reports

Would the International Legal Review Limit Facebook’s Bias Towards Israel and Oppressing Palestinians

In a report by the British Middle East Eye news website, it says “while Palestinian digital rights advocates welcomed the report of the Facebook oversight board, which called for an independent review of bias in the company’s handling of Palestinian content; However, this issue is far from being closed.”

The site questioned whether Facebook will comply with the recommendations issued by the social media giant’s oversight board regarding digitally oppressing Palestinians and siding with Israel.

The latest report, released in September, came after an outcry last May when the site, Instagram (also owned by it) and Twitter were accused of censoring Palestinians and their supporters after hundreds of posts in support of the Palestinian cause were removed without a clear justification in most cases.

This wasn’t the first time that social media platforms, their managers, and their algorithms were accused of stifling freedom of expression for Palestinians.

The report emphasized that the content reviewer should “not be associated with either party to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict” and should examine both human and machine content in both Arabic and Hebrew. This has become a permanent policy that Facebook follows with the Palestinians; Especially since Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg tends to support Zionism and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands.

In a report by the journalist specialized in Middle East affairs, Dania Al-Akkad, she says: that the issuance of this long-awaited content review report does not mean that things are over, but that Facebook will have a long way to go before it reaches a level of fair and transparent dealing with Palestinian publications on the practices of the Israeli occupation. 

The report emphasized that the content reviewer should “not be associated with either party to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict” and should examine both human and machine content in both Arabic and Hebrew.

One of the main concerns of blue-wing defenders of Palestinian expression is the extent to which Facebook has removed Palestinian content at the request of both the Israeli government – including the Justice Ministry’s Internet unit – and an organized network of volunteers who constantly report pro-Palestinian content.

Last August alone, 50 suspicious actions against Palestinian content by Facebook and other social media platforms.

“I hope that there will be a positive change that will enable us to take back our digital rights, because until now we have had nothing to do about what is going on,” says Iyad Al-Rifai, director of Sada Social, an advocate for digital rights for Palestinians.

He added that since 2017, his organization has been sending a monthly list to Facebook of the Palestinian accounts and pages that have been removed, most of which were deleted by mistake, but the level of Palestinian content decline has not stopped.

The organization – along with two Palestinian news agencies and a translator – sent a legal complaint to the company last May, but Facebook responded, saying, again, that the pages and content had been removed in error.

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