Activists welcome FB probe into censoring of Palestine posts
A Palestinian digital rights group has welcomed Facebook's decision on Thursday to launch an independent investigation into its moderation of Arabic and Hebrew content, amid sustained accusations that the social media giant has been censoring content related to Palestine.
The decision followed recommendations from Facebook's Oversight Board on the matter, as well as protests from several rights groups demanding transparency and fairness with regards to Palestine-related posts.
7amleh, the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, urged that Facebook appoint "independent professionals with a background in human rights in general and human rights in particular" to carry out the investigation.
"The center considers the decisions and recommendations of the Oversight Board as positive and serious steps in the right direction, which will contribute to ensuring that Facebook moderates content in a safe, fair and equitable manner," 7amleh said in an emailed statement. "We hope that Facebook seriously considers these recommendations and implements them immediately."
The group also urged Facebook to specify its criteria for “dangerous individuals and organisations”, whose content is subject to immediate removal from the platform.
Earlier this year, 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.
Many Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were using the platforms to document Israel's attacks and attempted forced expulsions at the time.
In late May, 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.