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Meta’s actions “adversely impacted” Palestinians’ rights: Access Now welcomes BSR findings

Access Now and other civil society organizations welcome the release of the long-awaited Business for Social Responsibility’s (BSR) human rights due diligence (HRDD) findings that expose Meta’s rights-violating and biased actions against people in Palestine.

The HRDD, commissioned by Meta and led by BSR in September 2021, assessed the human rights impacts of Meta’s content moderation policies and practices during the escalation of violence in Palestine and Israel in May 2021. It ​​identifies a variety of adverse human rights impacts for Meta to address, including on the rights of Palestinians to freedom of expression.

“We’ve long known that Meta’s censorship of Palestinian content is fundamentally biased. Now we have the receipts to prove it,” said Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Manager at Access Now. “BSR’s findings expose Meta’s actions have violated the rights of people in Palestine. The key question now is will the company immediately remedy its harms, or will it prove to the world it not only doesn’t care, but is actively, decidedly facilitating online apartheid?”

Since May 2021, Access Now and partner civil society organizations have called for an independent review of Meta’s content moderation policies around Palestine and Israel. Now, BSR’s findings confirm that Meta’s policies and practices are biased and have negatively impacted Palestinian and Arabic-speaking people who use the company’s platforms. 

The findings echo civil society reporting on the over-enforcement of Arabic content compared to Hebrew during this period. BSR notes “unintentional bias” in Meta’s policies and practices, but Access Now refutes this suggestion, as civil society has been calling attention to the disproportionately negative impact of its content moderation on Palestinians and Arabic speakers for years. Meta was made well aware of its biases, and therefore the negligence cannot be unintentional. 

“Meta must do better,” said Kassem Mnejja, MENA Campaigner at Access Now. “The company’s platforms host some of the only avenues people have for freedom of expression. It must recognize the importance of, and safeguard, diverse voices from across the globe. Access Now and civil society will hold Meta accountable to many of the recommendations in the BSR due diligence findings.”

The HRDD also fails to unpack Meta’s relationship with Israel, and ignores requests sent by the Israeli Cybercrime Unit, to which Meta has been known to comply with 90% of the time, against a backdrop of Israel’s Defense Minister publicly pressuring Meta to take down Palestenian content.

Access Now wants action, and is calling on Meta to provide a detailed timeline for exactly how and when it will implement BSR’s recommendations in full transparency, and take decisive action to protect the voices of Palestinians and other oppressed peoples around the world

Read the full statement.