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21 Dec 2023

Richard Luscombe, The Guardian

Meta allegedly censors pro-Palestine voices on a global scale, HRW's report claims

"Meta censors pro-Palestinian views on a global scale, report claims", 21 December 2023

Meta has engaged in a “systemic and global” censorship of pro-Palestinian content since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war on 7 October, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW).

In a scathing 51-page report, the organization documented and reviewed more than a thousand reported instances of Meta removing content and suspending or permanently banning accounts on Facebook and Instagram.

Examples it cites include content originating from more than 60 countries, mostly in English, and all in “peaceful support of Palestine, expressed in diverse ways”. Even HRW’s own posts seeking examples of online censorship were flagged as spam, the report said.

“Censorship of content related to Palestine on Instagram and Facebook is systemic and global [and] Meta’s inconsistent enforcement of its own policies led to the erroneous removal of content about Palestine,” the group said in the report, citing “erroneous implementation, overreliance on automated tools to moderate content, and undue government influence over content removals” as the roots of the problem.

In a statement to the Guardian, Meta acknowledged it makes errors that are “frustrating” for people, but said that “the implication that we deliberately and systemically suppress a particular voice is false. Claiming that 1,000 examples, out of the enormous amount of content posted about the conflict, are proof of ‘systemic censorship’ may make for a good headline, but that doesn’t make the claim any less misleading.

Meta said it was the only company in the world to have publicly released human rights due diligence on issues related to Israel and Palestine.

Part of the following timelines

Tech companies criticized for their complicity & bias against Palestinians regarding the Gaza conflict

Investigative human rights reports allege Meta censored Palestinian content amid current siege and bombardment of Gaza and previous escalations; incl. co. response