Facebook launches 'special operations centre' to filter Israel-Palestine content

Facebook launches 'special operations centre' to filter Israel-Palestine content
2 min read
20 May, 2021
The California-based social media giant is using the initiative to deal more quickly with material breaching its policies and 'possible errors in enforcement'.
Senior Facebook leaders also recently met with the Palestinian premier [NurPhoto/Getty]

Social media giant Facebook has launched a "special operations center" helping it deal with material related to Palestine-Israel.

Reuters reported that, according to Facebook on Wednesday, the initiative launched last week.

The news comes as the Israeli bombing campaign against Gaza reached its tenth day on Wednesday, with the number of fatalities now at a minimum of 227 in the enclave, of which 64 are children.

The California-based business' VP content policy, Monika Bickert, informed journalists the centre permits quicker deletion of material breaching its policies.

She added that it also enables them to deal with "possible errors in enforcement".

Bickert explained that native speakers of both Arabic and Hebrew are working on the project, alongside other relevant specialists.

Reuters reported that the social network has previously come under fire for having inadequate language facilities during strife elsewhere.

The project is not the first of its kind, with Facebook having already used similar projects to deal with prominent elections, for example, The Hill reported.

Company spokesperson Andy Stone said former deputy UK prime minister and current Facebook global affairs chief Nick Clegg, plus other top leaders, talked with Palestinian premier Mohammad Shtayyeh on Tuesday.

This had been anticipated by Facebook and comes after Clegg and Joel Kaplan, another senior figure, talked with Benny Gantz, Israel's minister of defence, this past Thursday, according to POLITICO.

This centred on the topic of falsehoods and what POLITICO described as "violent threats" being disseminated on the site.

Also on Wednesday, The New York Times reported that Israeli extremists were using WhatsApp, a messaging service owned by Facebook, to incite violence against Palestinians.

One WhatsApp group was named "Death to Arabs", the same phrase Jewish supremacists chanted while marching through the occupied city of Jerusalem last month.

Other social networking sites, including Instagram, also owned by Facebook, have been accused of censoring posts about Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, where Palestinian families are facing expulsion efforts.

A spokesperson for Instagram, Sophie Vogel, said earlier this month that "content related to Sheikh Jarrah was removed as a result of a widespread global technical issue affecting Instagram.

"This issue was not focused on any particular location or topic, and has now been fixed."

Vogel also said a problem with disappearing direct messages was resolved without anything being permanently lost.