Facebook to meet with Palestinian officials over online 'hate speech'

Facebook to meet with Palestinian officials over online 'hate speech'
The social media giant already met with Israeli officials last week.
3 min read
16 May, 2021
Facebook is at the centre of controversy [Getty]
Facebook, Twitter and TikTok representatives are expected to meet with Palestinian officials this week to discuss hate speech and incitements to violence on the platform amid Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Top Facebook lobbyists Nick Clegg and Joel Kaplan and several TikTok executives met over Zoom with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Thursday and discussed the "spread of misinformation and violent threats on the social network", Politico reported.
Facebook's policy director for Israel and the Jewish diaspora (former Benjamin Netanyahu advisor and Likud staff member) Jordana Cutler was also in the meeting.

Her counterpart for the Middle East and North Africa region, Azzam Alameddin, will attend the online meeting with the Palestinian Authority, the report said.

"In response to the violence, we are working to make sure our services are a safe place for our community," Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone said.

"We will continue to remove content that violates our Community Standards, which do not allow hate speech or incitement to violence, and will proactively explain and promote dialogue on these policies to policymakers."

Claims of censorship

Last week, thousands of social media users reported issues with Instagram posts relating to Palestinians and Israeli violence, while others saw pro-Palestinian Facebook groups shut down.

Many reported having Instagram posts removed, being unable to post stories and having their account suspended after posting about Israel’s brutal crackdown on Palestinians, including the bombardment of Gaza.

At the time, Instagram - which is owned by Facebook - acknowledged it as a "technical issue" and denied that it had anything to do specifically with the removal of Palestinian posts.

However, since then, users continue to report issues with their accounts.

A Tunisian model based in America said she was unable to post on her 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.

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", and a day later, after her claims went viral on Twitter, she was able to access her account.

Instagram at the time said it was "looking into" the issue.

Israel's deadly airstrikes on Gaza began following a series of provocations in east Jerusalem earlier this month.

Israeli settlers attempted to forcibly evict a number of Palestinian families from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah area, leading to protests. Separately, Israeli police had also attacked worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque during Eid.

At least 202 Palestinians have since been killed and 5,588 others injured, the health ministry said on Sunday.

In the Gaza Strip, 181 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes, including 52 children and 31 women.

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