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24 Okt 2023

Social media platforms allegedly contribute to harmful content & to suppress Palestinian voices during times of crisis; incl. co. comments

Since 7th October, as the Israel-Hamas conflict escalation and the attacks on Gaza and the West Bank continued, civil society organizations and media have raised concerns about a surge in hate speech, including antisemitism, islamophobia, and anti-Palestinian racism, as well as censorship incidents of Palestinian narratives on social media platforms.

In this context, the civil society organization 7amleh has warned of a significant increase in digital rights violations on social media platforms. These violations include hundreds of cases of hate speech and incitement to violence against Palestinians in the Hebrew language. They also involve restrictions on Palestinian supporter's and activists' accounts and content. According to 7amleh’s findings, there are over 103,000 instances of Hebrew hate speech against Palestinians, with the majority allegedly occurring on X, formerly known as Twitter. Additionally, the organization documented hundreds of digital rights violations aimed at silencing Palestinians, with most of these incidents reportedly happening on Meta's platforms.

In the face of these widespread digital rights violations on social media platforms, over 48 civil society organizations issued a joint statement urging tech companies to combat online hate speech, incitement, and violence targeting Palestinians during times of crisis. They also called for the respect and protection of Palestinian voices on their platforms. The statement highlighted a significant rise in incitement to violence against Palestinians and demands for collective punishment, particularly on X and Telegram.

Furthermore, the New Arab reported that social media users have accused Instagram and TikTok of ‘shadow banning’ Palestinian supporters and account restrictions. Users expressed concerns about potential bias and emphasized the critical role of social media in conveying the Gaza Strip. The media has also allegedly reported that X Corp removed hundreds of Palestinian accounts.

Additionally, the digital media Raseef22 published a report that revealed perceived bias against Palestinian content on Facebook and Instagram. The report includes comments from civil society organizations and experts who emphasized that disparities and bias in management between Hebrew and Arabic content within Meta's platform was an issue that was previously alerted by an independent consultation committed by Meta to the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) organization. Additionally, the report exposed that X Corp lacks essential content moderation resources for the Hebrew language, which allegedly facilitates the spread of harmful content without any repercussions opposite of how the platform handles the Arabic language.

The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Meta, Telegram, TikTok, and X Corp to respond to these allegations. Only Meta did respond.


X Corp. (formerly Twitter)

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TikTok (part of ByteDance)

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