[News] Facebook censors Palestinian news outlet

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 27 14:15:09 EDT 2018


  Facebook censors Palestinian news outlet

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 26 
March 2018


Facebook has shut down the page <https://www.facebook.com/safaps> of a 
major Palestinian news outlet, in what appears to be a blatant instance 
of pro-Israel censorship.

The Safa Palestinian Press Agency reported that on Saturday 
<http://safa.ps/post/232169> its page, which had more than 1.3 million 
followers, was shut down without warning.

    As part of its unabated campaign against pro-Palestinian content on
    its platform, Facebook removes the page of the Palestinian Press
    Agency (SAFA) today. pic.twitter.com/0jeytF12XP

    — Quds News Network (@QudsNen) March 24, 2018

According to Safa, the next day its website was hijacked and replaced 
with threatening statements, before the publication’s technologists 
managed to restore control of their site.

On Monday, Safa reported <http://safa.ps/post/232218> that its page on 
the photo sharing network Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, had 
also been shut down without any warning. The account had more than 

This appears to be an escalation of Facebook’s persistent blocking of 
the accounts of Palestinian journalists and publications.

Safa reports a mix of local and international news typical of other news 
organizations and asserts it has done nothing to violate Facebook’s rules.

According <http://safa.ps/post/232169> to Safa, Facebook has in recent 
days shut down about 100 accounts belonging to Palestinian media and 

In a statement <http://safaps.com/post/232226> Monday, Safa managers 
condemned Facebook’s action as a continuation of Israel’s assault on the 
Palestinian people and an attempt to silence reporting about reality.

The publication urged local and international press freedom defenders to 
speak out against the censorship, and called on Facebook to restore 
Safa’s accounts.

Earlier this month, journalists in Gaza held a demonstration to protest 
by Facebook.

A request for comment has been sent to Facebook.

    Bowing to government pressure

In 2016, Israel made an agreement 
with Facebook to collaborate in monitoring what Israel claims to be 
“incitement” by Palestinians.

That year, Facebook apologized for disabling the accounts of several 
Palestinian journalists, claiming 
it had been a mistake.

But with the shuttering of Safa’s accounts, it appears that the 
targeting of Palestinian journalists continues.

The European Union also appears to be supporting Israel’s social media 
censorship as part of the 28-member bloc’s deepening commitment 
to silencing support for Palestinian rights.

Last week, three EU justice ministers signed a joint declaration 
with their Israeli counterpart Ayelet Shaked on “combating online 
incitement” and anti-Semitism.

In recent years, Israel has been pushing 
to broaden the definition of anti-Semitism – which simply means bigotry 
against Jews as Jews – to include criticism of Israel and its state 
ideology, Zionism.

    Joint Statement on Countering Online #HateSpeech
    and Incitement to Violence and Terrorism signed by Justice Ministers
    of #Israel
    <https://twitter.com/hashtag/Greece?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw> &
    and presented at the 6th Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism.
    🔗https://t.co/dQJNfzC6tK pic.twitter.com/Q6PmjQ6Sih

    — Israel Foreign Min. (@IsraelMFA) March 20, 2018

The event was attended by Delphine Reyer, Facebook’s policy director for 
Africa and the Middle East.

    Israeli incitement

While Facebook colludes with governments to crack down on Palestinians, 
violent and racist incitement 
<https://electronicintifada.net/tags/israelis-facebook> by Israelis 
continues unabated.

More than 10 percent of Facebook posts written about Palestinians 
include denigrating language or calls for violence, according to a 
recent study 
by 7amleh <https://electronicintifada.net/tags/7amleh>, an advocacy 
group for Palestinian citizens of Israel.

One of the most notorious examples of online incitement against 
Palestinians was posted by none other than justice minister Ayelet Shaked.

On the eve of the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza that left more than 550 
Palestinian children dead, Shaked promoted a call for genocidal 
violence, including the slaughter of Palestinian mothers who give birth 
to “little snakes.”

Shaked’s call received thousands of “likes” before she removed it, 
embarrassed by the global exposure it gained after The Electronic 
Intifada translated 
it into English.

Last week, Shaked claimed 
that “terror groups” – the Israeli government’s catch-all term for 
Palestinian political parties and resistance organizations – were 
switching to Twitter, because so far that social network has been less 
willing to comply with government censorship than Facebook.

This indicates that after Facebook’s capitulation, other social media 
networks will be in Israel’s crosshairs.

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