[News] Facebook labels Palestinian journalism "hate speech"

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 29 10:27:03 EDT 2018


https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/facebook-labels-palestinian-journalism-hate-speech 



  Facebook labels Palestinian journalism "hate speech"

Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 27 
March 2018

------------------------------------------------------------------------

Facebook is defending its decision to shut down the page of a major 
Palestinian news outlet, describing the action as a move against “hate 
speech.”

On Saturday, the social media giant closed without warning 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/facebook-censors-palestinian-news-outlet-1> 
the page of the Safa Palestinian Press Agency, which had 1.3 million 
followers, as well as Safa’s account on the photo sharing site Instagram.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Media Association condemned 
<https://palsawa.com/post/146546> Facebook’s widening assault on the 
free speech of Palestinian journalists, calling it “clear submission to 
the policies and dictates of the Israeli occupation which is pursuing 
Palestinian activists on the basis of their political views and 
intellectual positions and issuing prison sentences against them.”

But Facebook is justifying the removal of Safa’s account. “This page was 
correctly removed for violating our community standards,” a company 
spokesperson emailed The Electronic Intifada Monday evening. “There is 
no room for hate speech or incitement of violence on our platform.”

The spokesperson provided no evidence to back up the company’s 
accusations against Safa, but asserted, “We care about the voices, 
opinion and rights of all the different communities on Facebook; 
however, keeping our community safe is our priority.”

By referring to “hate speech” and “incitement” as justifications to 
silence journalists, Facebook has adopted the framework of Israel, which 
routinely uses such broad and ill-defined terms to describe virtually 
all criticism of its violent military occupation over Palestinians or of 
its state ideology, Zionism.

The company did not respond to a question about whether it had taken the 
action against Safa based on a request from Israel.


    “Eagerness”

/The Intercept’s/ Glenn Greenwald has previously written 
<https://theintercept.com/2017/12/30/facebook-says-it-is-deleting-accounts-at-the-direction-of-the-u-s-and-israeli-governments/> 
and spoken 
<https://www.democracynow.org/2018/1/2/glenn_greenwald_is_facebook_operating_as> 
about Facebook’s collusion with Israel and the United States to silence 
voices they don’t like.

“Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness – at times 
bordering on eagerness – to curry favor with powerful governments by 
deleting content that they dislike,” Greenwald told The Electronic 
Intifada on Tuesday.

“One of the countries to which Facebook has proven itself most 
subservient is the Israeli government, and as a result, it has engaged 
in a year-long censorship spree against Palestinians whose crime is that 
they express views and engage in activism that Israeli officials dislike.”

According 
<https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-facebook-closes-page-of-hamas-affiliated-palestinian-news-agency-1.5939345> 
to the Israeli newspaper /Haaretz/, Facebook’s latest crackdown on 
Palestinian journalists and activists began several weeks ago, after 
Israeli occupation forces extrajudicially executed 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/maureen-clare-murphy/israeli-leaders-celebrate-extrajudicial-execution> 
Ahmad Nasser Jarrar, a man Israel claims was involved in the shooting 
death of an Israeli settler in early January.

Israeli lawmakers also discussed 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/how-facebook-protects-israel> 
how to suppress online content, including getting Facebook to take down 
images of Jarrar.

Since the beginning of the year, /Haaretz/ says, citing an unnamed 
Palestinian activist who monitors the issue, about 500 Facebook pages of 
Palestinian activists and journalists have been closed by the company.


    Wide-ranging coverage

According to /Haaretz/, Safa has been operating for a decade as a 
“Hamas-affiliated” counterpart to Wafa, the official Palestinian news 
agency that is controlled by the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah 
faction led by Mahmoud Abbas.

But Safa’s website <http://safa.ps> shows that its reporting is fairly 
typical of a wide range of Palestinian media outlets, covering violence 
by Israeli occupation forces against Palestinians, local, regional and 
international politics, and human interest stories.

The outlet carries reports on the activities of all political factions. 
On Tuesday, for instance, one of its lead stories 
<http://safa.ps/post/232300> was on a cabinet meeting led by Rami 
Hamdallah, the PA prime minister, in which Hamdallah asserted that his 
government “will not abandon our people in Gaza.”

Hamas and the PA remain bitter rivals 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/omar-karmi/targeting-palestinian-unity> 
over who should run Gaza.

The report includes the PA’s claims about the achievements of its 
efforts in Gaza, such as bringing together 55 countries at a donors 
conference last week to fund a $565 million water desalination plant in 
the Israeli-blockaded coastal territory.

Another report <http://safa.ps/post/232296/> Tuesday carries a statement 
by Abbas’ official spokesperson describing recent US decisions to cut 
aid to the PA as “a war on our people.”


    Obeying censorship

Palestinians are avid users of Facebook and it is often a primary source 
of information about what is happening in their communities.

But social media has made it hard for Israel’s censors to control 
information flowing from and to Palestinians under their military rule.

Last week, an Israeli military court sentenced 
<https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/tamara-nassar/israel-sentences-ahed-tamimi-eight-months-prison> 
Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi to eight months in prison for slapping 
a heavily armed occupation soldier in the West Bank.

It also sentenced her mother Nariman for filming the incident and 
streaming it on Facebook 
<https://theintercept.com/2018/03/22/israel-jails-palestinian-mother-facebook-live-video-daughter-slapping-soldier/>.

Israel’s persecution of the Tamimi family over the incident has become 
an international rallying point for Palestine solidarity.

But for now, Israel appears to have solved its Facebook problem by 
leaning on the company to submit to its commands.

According to Glenn Greenwald, “Facebook has empowered Israeli officials 
to control its content by obeying their censorship dictates in almost 
all cases.”


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