Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were under fire for censoring Palestinian posts without explanation. The social media platforms were widely used by Palestinians to share information from a variety of areas, including the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah where families faced eviction. Human rights organisations and users globally reported the deletion of hundreds of posts condemning the eviction of Palestinians. Now, some Facebook employees have come together to condemn the removal of such posts. Facebook's employees have written to the company to address the Palestinian censorship on social media platforms. Israel announced a ceasefire 11 days after Israeli airstrikes claimed over 200 lives in Gaza, which included at least 63 children.
The employees have reportedly posted a petition on an internal forum which reportedly has 174 signatures. The Financial Times first reported about the letter which says, "As highlighted by employees, the press, and members of Congress, and as reflected in our declining app store rating, our users and community at large feel that we are falling short on our promise to protect open expression around the situation in Palestine. We believe Facebook can and should do more to understand our users and work on rebuilding their trust."
A Facebook spokesperson in a statement to The Verge said the company has committed to an audit of its community standards enforcement report. "We know there were several issues that impacted people's ability to share on our apps. While we fixed them, they should never have happened in the first place and we're sorry to anyone who felt they couldn't bring attention to important events, or who believed this was a deliberate suppression of their voice. We design our policies to give everyone a voice while keeping them safe on our apps and we apply them equally, regardless of who is posting or what their personal beliefs are," he said.
Facebook has been under fire in the recent past for censoring and removing Palestinian posts without explanation. According to a report by The Guardian Palestinian digital rights non-profit 7amleh and more than 30 other human rights organizations are calling for greater transparency into the social network's decision making, as part of a campaign titles Facebook, we need to talk. 7amleh also aimed critiques of censorship at Twitter, where 55 cases of Palestinian content being removed were reported. Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president for global affairs, virtually met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in a virtual meeting where he apologized for the company mistakenly labeling some posts as incitement to violence.
A Facebook spokesperson told the publication that there have been recent glitches affecting the ability to share content on Facebook and Instagram, including an error that temporarily restricted content from being viewed on the al-Aqsa mosque hashtag page. He said Facebook had a dedicated team including Arabic and Hebrew speakers closely monitoring the situation on the ground.
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