Cover Image: It's not a glitch: how Meta systematically censors Palestinian voices

Meta must take immediate action to stop the systematic censorship of Pro-Palestinian voices

As the war in Gaza rages on, with the death toll mounting to almost 35,000, Meta and Big Tech must act to uphold human rights. In response to a formal letter sent by #StopSilencingPalestine campaign to Nick Clegg, Meta’s President of Global Affairs on March 14, the tech giant falls short on addressing its complacency in pro-Palestinian censorship and civil society’s demand for urgent action.

Social media companies that allow the spread of incitement to violence on their platforms are risking being complicit in genocide. Meta is not only failing in taking this risk seriously, its deeply flawed content moderation system continues to silence the voices of those surviving or speaking up against the genocidal violence and abhorrent crimes in Gaza. Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Director at Access Now.

This response comes after a meeting with Meta’s executive on February 22, 2024, where campaign members brought up the systematic censorship of Palestinians and pro-Palestinian advocates on Meta’s platforms. The coalition reiterated previous demands for Meta to tackle the spread of hate speech and genocidal rhetoric online, and emphasized the urgent need for policy changes to safeguard digital rights during crises.

In its response, Meta outlined its general approaches to handling harmful content and the temporary measures it has taken since October 7, 2023. While the coalition welcomes this engagement, Meta’s response lacked concrete steps to address the detrimental effects of its policies and actions on human rights, both online and offline. It also failed to provide any heightened human rights due diligence measures to mitigate contributing to gross human rights abuses and atrocity crimes, especially in light of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling of the plausible risk of genocide in Gaza.

With almost 35,000 killed in Gaza, Meta’s lack of action to the systematic censorship of Pro-Palestinian voices is fanning the flames of hate. For years, civil society has been sounding the alarm and calling for reforms on Meta’s platforms. It’s time for one of the world’s most influential tech companies to take immediate, concrete action to uphold human rights and protect all voices during these times of chaos and aggression. Kassem Mnejja, MENA Campaigner.

The coalition continues to demand that Meta take further action, ensuring more transparency and concrete measures regarding:

  • The systemic over-moderation of content about Palestine and Israel and its impact on freedom of expression, access to information, and crucial documentation during crises;
  • Algorithmic bias, especially in moderating Arabic language content, with precedents of disproportionate censorship of Palestinian content;
  • The proliferation of hate speech, racism, incitement to violence, and genocidal rhetoric on its platforms;
  • Meta’s plans to mitigate negative impacts on human rights and to address potential complicity in violations of international law; and
  • More transparency on voluntary government takedown requests.

The coalition reiterates its call on Meta to demonstrate a serious commitment to upholding human rights, non-discrimination, transparency, and accountability on its platforms.