Meta Oversight Board to rule on use of ‘from the river to the sea’

Meta Oversight Board to rule on use of ‘from the river to the sea’
Meta’s moderators are considering if the popular "from the river to the sea" slogan should be allowed on its platforms.
3 min read
07 May, 2024
Meta has previously been accused of unduly censoring pro-Palestine content [Illustration]

Meta’s Oversight Board announced on Tuesday that it will review three cases of the use of the pro-Palestinian phrase "from the river to the sea" on Facebook to determine whether they constitute "acceptable" speech.

The review is aimed at creating a policy regarding the use of the slogan, which is often chanted by supporters of the Palestinian cause.

There has been an uptick in its usage since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza last October.

According to the Oversight Board, three posts were shared by users on Facebook in November using the phrase, with the Board now reviewing whether the content should be removed.

Meta decided to leave up the three examples after they were reported, stating they did not break their rules on hate speech, violence and incitement or dangerous organisations or individuals.

The posts were originally reported stating that one example promotes violence or supports terrorism, and the other two constitute hate speech, is antisemitic and is a call to abolish the state of Israel.

"The Board selected these cases to consider how Meta should moderate the use of the phrase given the resurgence in its use after October 7 2023 and controversies around the phrase’s meaning," they said in a statement.

The Oversight Board added they are aware the phrase has been used to advocate for the dignity and rights of Palestinians but could also have antisemitic implications.

"This case falls within the Board’s strategic priority of Crisis and Conflict Situations," they said.

The moderators have called for public comments that address the origins and current usage of the phrase, state and institutional responses to the use of the phrase and Meta’s human rights responsibilities in relation to freedom of expression.

They added that in the next few weeks, their board members will be deliberating the cases.

Facebook and its parent company Meta have previously been accused of deliberately censoring pro-Palestine content, with Human Rights Watch saying last December that they routinely engage in "six key patterns of undue censorship" of pro-Palestine posts.

There have been growing attacks on the popular "from the river to the sea" slogan from pro-Israeli groups in recent months.

In November, the House of Representatives censured representative Rashida Tlaib for using the phrase, with some Congresspeople calling it a "rallying cry for the destruction of the State of Israel and genocide of the Jewish people."

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A House resolution also condemned the phrase as "antisemitic" last month.

Israel supporters claim the phrase calls for the eradication of the state of Israel but Palestinian activists say it is merely a demand for justice for all Palestinians within the historic borders of Palestine.