U.S. Senator joins civil society’s call: #StopSilencingPalestine

The systematic censorship of Palestinian-related content must end. Access Now, 7amleh, and Fight for the Future — members of the #StopSilencingPalestine and #LetPalestineSpeak coalitions — support the call from the U.S. Congress for transparency and accountability for Meta’s censorship of Palestine-related content.

In a letter addressed to Meta’s chief Mark Zuckerberg, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) echoes the alarms raised by over 90 civil society organizations of  Meta’s suppression, removal, and mistranslation of Palestine-related content since October 7. Sen. Warren pushes the company to provide transparency on its content moderation actions and to address its discriminatory algorithmic design.

The world’s largest platform is using its resources to systemically and disproportionately censor people exercising their most basic democratic freedom: to speak out against injustice. By restricting content that seeks to illuminate the carnage in Gaza, Meta is editorializing a conflict in real time. Senator Warren’s letter crucially calls for transparency around the irresponsible behavior of this global company. More policymakers must join the Senator in demanding accountability from Meta and uphold freedom of expression, online and offline. Ben Grazda, U.S. Campaigner for Access Now

Over the past two months, Access Now and civil society partners have documented Meta’s systematic repression of Palestinian and Palestine-related content online, particularly on Facebook and Instagram. This includes shutting down journalists’ accounts, incorrectly removing content on Gaza, restricting comments and live-streaming, and shadowbanning people for posting about Gaza and Palestine more generally.  

Meanwhile, Meta has failed to combat the proliferation of hate speech and calls to violence in its platforms including paid ads, tested by 7amleh, that call for violence and the mass murder of Palestinians. Such negligence is egregious given the company’s past role in exacerbating violence and atrocities perpetrated by Myanmar’s military against the Rohingya in 2017.

As every crisis repeats the same content moderation pattern, it’s clear Meta’s censorship of Palestinian voices is a feature and not a bug. However, this time the stakes are high. Instead of removing legitimate content that offers a glimpse into the horrific atrocities perpetrated in Gaza, tech companies must direct their energies to combat the genocidal rhetoric and hate speech flooding their platforms. Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Director

As rightly noted in the Senator’s letter, “Meta must not make the same mistakes again.” Access Now continues to call on the social media giant to #StopSilencingPalestine and overhaul its discriminatory content moderation policies and actions.