Meta: Let Palestine Speak
Palestinians are being silenced on Instagram and Facebook through content removal, shadowbanning, and the deletion of accounts.
In recent days there have been numerous reports of Instagram hiding comments containing the Palestinian flag emoji. ?? A little investigating revealed Instagram was labeling the symbol as “potentially offensive”—just the latest in a series of disturbing instances of platform bias and censorship of Palestinian content and Palestine-related content.
Users have also reported Instagram inserting the word “terrorist” into English translations of Arabic bios/profiles that contain the words “Palestinian” and “Alhamdulillah” (Arabic for Praise be to God), and the Palestinian flag emoji. Meta has since “apologized,” but the harm can’t be undone—and the incident speaks volumes about Meta’s true colors as a company.
Palestinians in Gaza are living through one of the most brutal military assaults in recent human history. The fact that they’re facing discrimination and silencing from the platforms they rely on to connect with their families, friends, and the outside world, on top of everything else, is reprehensible.
Amid Israel’s horrific ongoing violence, social media giants like Meta can––and must––play a critical role in providing a space to record human rights violations and war crimes. But instead of preserving history, Meta and others are choosing to erase it, subjecting Palestinians and their supporters to shadowbanning and outright content removal and account suspensions. At the same time, incendiary Hebrew-language content calling for the murder of Palestinians and the erasure of Gaza is allowed to stand and spread.
These discriminatory practices have to do with the racism baked into Meta’s machine learning datasets and content moderation approach, as well as the unchecked influence of Israel’s Cyber Unit, a government agency that “flags and submits social media posts—without legal proceedings and often without even the knowledge of the individual user—to social media giants and requests their removal.”
Palestinians have been loud and clear about these biased systems and their impact––now it’s on us to amplify their calls for action. In recent years movements have successfully pressured Big Tech companies to make changes that reduce material harms, and this moment will be no exception if enough of us mobilize.
From: [Your Name]
The censorship and discrimination that Palestinians and Palestine advocates are facing on Meta’s platforms—from content removal, to the suppression of the Palestinian flag emoji, to shadowbanning and account suspensions—is reprehensible.
We call on Meta to:
**Government Request Transparency: Provide complete transparency on requests—both legal and voluntary—submitted by governments worldwide, including the Israeli government and the Israeli Cyber Unit, EU, and Palestinian Authority law enforcement agencies, and others.
**Automation Transparency & Unbiased Datasets: Provide full transparency on where, when, and how automation and machine learning algorithms are being used in the content moderation process; Commit to rooting out biased training datasets, and ensure that implementation of AI Generative tools does not produce insulting and dehumanizing results; Invest in increased human moderation in complex socio-political contexts, such as Palestine and Israel, to ensure more nuanced moderation––especially in times of crisis.
**Dangerous Organizations: Provide full transparency around who has been designated under the “Dangerous Organizations and Individuals” policy, and why; Include policy carve-outs for the protection of freedom of the press, as well as the documentation of human rights violations.
**Co-design & Independent Review:
Commit to consistently recurring and comprehensive independent human rights due diligence reviews and audits; Commit to a continuous co-design process with civil society to improve upon policies and processes involving Palestinian content.
**Fully Implement BSR Recommendations:
Continue to implement any additional recommendations in BSR’s “Human Rights Due Diligence of Meta’s Impacts in Israel and Palestine” report.
Against all odds, Palestinians continue to overcome attempts to silence them and erase them from their lands. Meta has a choice: continue your complicity in the mass atrocities and genocide campaign against Palestinians in Gaza, as well as the ongoing attacks against Palestinians everywhere, OR refuse to be a barrier to Palestinians’ truth-telling and #LetPalestineSpeak.