[News] Facebook disables accounts of Palestinian editors

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Fri Sep 23 14:12:53 EDT 2016


https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/facebook-disables-accounts-palestinian-editors 



  Facebook disables accounts of Palestinian editors

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 23 
September 2016

Editors at two of the most widely read Palestinian online publications 
have had their Facebook accounts disabled.

Administrators for the Facebook pages of /Quds/ 
<https://www.facebook.com/QudsN/>, which has more than five million 
“likes,” and Shehab News Agency 
<https://www.facebook.com/ShehabAgency.MainPage/>, which has more than 
six million, found they could not access their accounts on Friday.

Ezz al-Din al-Akhras, a supervisor at /Quds/, told The Electronic 
Intifada that at around 2pm, three of the publication’s editors found 
their accounts disabled.

The same thing has happened to five editors at /Shehab News Agency/, a 
news editor for that publication told The Electronic Intifada.

Both organizations are still publishing to Facebook as some editors can 
still access their accounts.


    Censorship

/Quds/ provided this screenshot showing what happened when one of their 
adminstrators tried to log in to his Facebook account.

Both believe that the suspensions are directly related to an agreement 
<https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/12/facebook-israel-monitor-posts-incite-violence-social-media?CMP=twt_gu> 
between Facebook and the Israeli government to collaborate in monitoring 
what Israel claims is “incitement” by Palestinians.

“The joint Facebook-Israel censorship efforts, needless to say, will be 
directed at Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians who oppose Israeli 
occupation,” /The Intercept’s/ Glenn Greenwald wrote 
<https://theintercept.com/2016/09/12/facebook-is-collaborating-with-the-israeli-government-to-determine-what-should-be-censored/> 
of the agreement earlier this month.

“There has been no given reason for closing the accounts,” /Quds’/ 
al-Akhras said. “We believe this is the result of the agreement between 
Israel and Facebook. It is very strange that Facebook would take part in 
such an agreement, given that it is supposed to be a platform for free 
expression and journalism.”

Al-Akhras said that it was particularly dismaying that Facebook would 
take this action as /Quds/ got its start in 2011 as a Facebook-only 
platform.

It only launched its own website <http://www.qudsn.ps> and began using 
other social media platforms later on.

“We learned what journalism and freedom of expression are using 
Facebook,” al-Akhras said, adding that /Quds/ was the first Palestinian 
publication to systematically use the platform for crowdsourcing news 
and verifying events all over Palestine.

Its reports, usually accompanied by photos and videos, are frequently 
cited by The Electronic Intifada.


    Jailing journalists

Over the past year, Israel has tried to blame an upsurge in 
confrontations between Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, on the 
one hand, and its soldiers and settlers, on the other, on “incitement” 
in social media.

It has jailed a number of Palestinians 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/israel-imprisons-journalist-facebook-status>, 
including journalists, for posting news and criticism of Israel’s 
occupation on Facebook.

Palestinian journalist Samah Dweik was released on Monday 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/israel-releases-journalist-jailed-social-media-posts> 
after six months in prison for alleged incitement on Facebook.

In July, the Mossad-linked lawfare group Shurat HaDin filed a $1 billion 
lawsuit 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/charlotte-silver/mossad-linked-group-sues-facebook-1-billion> 
against Facebook claiming the company serves as a platform for what 
Israel calls “terrorist groups.”

As Greenwald noted, however, the targets have not been “terrorists” but 
journalists.

The editor at Shehab said that the censorship campaign is likely only in 
its earliest stages and he would not be surprised if in coming days many 
more Palestinian journalists and news organizations are targeted.

/Quds’/ al-Akhras said that Facebook’s action was not just a matter for 
Palestinians, but harmed free speech globally.

“This tells any repressive regime that they can rely on Facebook to shut 
down the media,” he said.

A request for comment has been sent to Facebook.


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