[News] Facebook labels Palestinian journalism "hate speech"
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 29 10:27:03 EDT 2018
Facebook labels Palestinian journalism "hate speech"
Ali Abunimah <https://electronicintifada.net/people/ali-abunimah> - 27
Facebook is defending its decision to shut down the page of a major
Palestinian news outlet, describing the action as a move against “hate
On Saturday, the social media giant closed without warning
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.
/The Intercept’s/ Glenn Greenwald has previously written
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.”
to the Israeli newspaper /Haaretz/, Facebook’s latest crackdown on
Palestinian journalists and activists began several weeks ago, after
Israeli occupation forces extrajudicially executed
Ahmad Nasser Jarrar, a man Israel claims was involved in the shooting
death of an Israeli settler in early January.
Israeli lawmakers also discussed
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.
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
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.”
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
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
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
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