Facebook algorithms 'discriminate' against Palestinian activists

Palestinian activists say there is a Facebook purge against them as algorithms replace coronavirus-hit staff
2 min read
27 March, 2020
Palestinian activists suspect that Facebook's algorithm has been amended to target any content criticising the Israeli occupation.
Facebook has blocked teh accounts of Palestinian activists [Getty]
Facebook has blocked the posts of Palestinian activists and banned their accounts for up to three months for sharing content about Palestinian resistance figures, a number of activists complained.

Activists told Arabi21 on Thursday that Facebook is imposing restrictions on their accounts because of new and old posts about prominent Palestinian figures such as Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin.

Palestinian activists suspect that Facebook's algorithm has been amended to target any content criticising the Israeli occupation.

It appears the spread of coronavirus across the globe is also having an impact on Facebook's ability to moderate content.

"Facebook is affected by the coronavirus outbreak. We have fewer people available to review reports right now," an automatic response shared on Twitter reads.

Activists told Arabi21 that the mention of certain organisations or figures leads to their accounts being banned under the pretext of violating "community standards".

The activists expressed their anger at the move, which they described as an "electronic curfew".

One of those affected is journalist Walid Al-Attar, who said activists have received 90-day bans for following old publications on Palestine and the occupation.

Abdul Qadir bin Masoud said he was banned from Facebook because of an old photo of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin.

Read more: Coronavirus under occupation: Palestinian detainees in Israeli jails fear the worst

"On the anniversary of his martyrdom, I wrote a post about him and was banned for a whole day," he said.

Asma Saeed told Arabi21 she was barred from uploading live videos for two months for a 2015 post which included a photo of Yahya Ayyash's funeral.

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