Instagram says 'technical issue' caused removal of Sheikh Jarrah posts after censorship accusations

Instagram says 'technical issue' caused removal of Sheikh Jarrah posts after censorship accusations
Activists had accused the social media giant of censoring their posts on Israel's forced removal of Palestinians in Jerusalem.
2 min read
08 May, 2021
Palestinians are being forcibly expelled from their homes [Getty]

Instagram has addressed accusations that it had censored thousands of posts about the forced expulsions of Palestinian families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, calling it a "technical issue".

Activists and hundreds of social media users on Thursday accused the social media giant of censoring posts after videos, Instagram stories and Instagram highlights relating to events in Sheikh Jarrah disappeared from the app.

The New Arab reached out to Instagram about the issue.

"I want to confirm that content related to Sheikh Jarrah was removed as a result of a widespread global technical issue affecting Instagram," Instagram spokesperson Sophie Vogel said.

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

Activists also reported direct messages about Sheikh Jarrah being deleted. Instagram said there were "issues" with chat threads on the app.

"Some people were also experiencing issues with chat threads. No messages or chat threads were actually deleted and we’ve since fixed this issue," Vogel added.

Muna Elkurd, a Palestinian Instagram user based in Jerusalem, had been posting video updates on her story showing Israeli soldiers' use of force against Palestinians.

She revealed that her account had been suspended, blaming it on censorship.

"Muna Elkurd’s account was removed in error and has been restored," Vogel told The New Arab.

The Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, admitted that there was a technical issue in a statement and addressed accusations of censorship.

"Yesterday we experienced a technical bug, which impacted millions of people’s stories, highlights and archives around the world. For people impacted by this bug, they saw their stories that were re-sharing posts disappear and their archive and highlights stories were missing.

"Many people thought we were removing their content because of what they posted or what hashtag they used, but this bug wasn’t related to the content itself, but rather a widespread issue that has now been fixed.

"People around the world - from Colombia to East Jerusalem - use our platform to share what’s happening. We know it was a really bad experience. Ultimately I'm accountable for Instagram's stability, so I own this. I’m very sorry."

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