Tunisian model reports Instagram censorship over Palestinian content

US-based Tunisian super model accuses Instagram of censorship over Palestinian content
3 min read
15 May, 2021
Azza Slimene's message about being unable to post on Instagram after talking to a man from Gaza went viral, the social media giant claimed it fixed a 'global' posting issue.
Azza Slimene took to social media to air her grievances [Instagram, Twitter screengrab]]
A Tunisian model based in America said she was unable to post on her Instagram account, the morning after she had invited a Palestinian man to speak about the situation in Gaza following Israel's bombardment of the enclave.

Azza Slimene, who describes herself as a "model by day, activist by night" has been a vocal critic of Israel’s military bombardment of Gaza, which has killed 133 people including 36 children and 20 women since Monday.

Slimene, who has 1.4 million followers on Instagram, on Thursday invited a Palestinian man to speak live on the social media platform about the situation in Gaza. She later posted the video onto her feed.

However, 24 hours later, she says she was unable to "post anything".

"I can’t post anything since the morning," she wrote in a direct message to a friend.

"Insta story or post! I can’t open an account on Twitter. I can’t post on TIKTOK. All the social media is blocked!"

A day later, she was able to post again.

The New Arab contacted Instagram regarding Azza’s temporary posting issues, and a representative of the social media giant said the issue is being "looked into".

This isn’t the first-time the social media giant has been accused of censorship over content related to Palestine.

Last week activists accused Instagram of removing posts and suspending accounts over content relating to Israel's forced expulsions of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem.

At the time Maha Rezeq, a producer at the Alaraby TV network, told The New Arab that content she uploaded to Instagram on Thursday was deleted from her page, as well as private direct messages exchanged with a friend.

"I was organising my IG stories in highlights for reference and easy access, but videos, photos, graphs, tweets exposing Israeli crimes [were] removed from the highlights. I would put them again, but I wouldn't see them," Rezeq said.

At the time, Instagram said it was a "technical issue" that had been fixed.

Activists have taken to using #SaveSheikhJarrah and #GazaUnderAttack to document Israel’s aggression in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Mohammed El-Kurd, a Palestinian writer from Jerusalem, was posting videos and stories on violence in Sheikh Jarrah when he received a warning that his account might be deleted.

Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, tweeted it was allegedly facing "technical issues", after hundreds of people began reporting the censorship.

"We know that some people are experiencing issues uploading and viewing stories. This is a widespread global technical issue not related to any particular topic and we’re fixing it right now. We’ll provide an update as soon as we can."

Nadim Nashif, the director of a nonprofit organisation called 7amleh that advocates for Palestinian digital rights, said the explanation did not make sense.

"(It) is very weird, like you know, to compare what happened in a certain neighborhood in Jerusalem, with huge countries like Canada, the US and Colombia, doesn’t sound logical to us, doesn’t sound like it’s really explaining, because in Canada and the US they were taking down stories that are about various topics, (but) here (it was) about (a) certain hashtag, specifically about Sheikh Jarrah," he said.

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