Facebook, Instagram Harmed Rights of Palestinian Users During Gaza Conflict, Report Finds
The Facebook and Instagram social media platforms harmed the human rights of Palestinian users during the conflict between Israel and Gaza in May 2021, according to a study commissioned by Meta, the platforms’ parent company. The speech policies of the social media sites harmed Palestinian users’ rights to “freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and nondiscrimination,” which prevented the Palestinians’ ability “to share information and insights about their experiences as they occurred,” according to the report set to be released on Thursday, The Intercept reported. The report was commissioned by Meta last year and conducted by the independent consultancy Business for Social Responsibility. It looks at the company’s censorship practices and allegations of bias during the conflict which saw Israeli airstrikes on Gaza and hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza on cities and towns in Israel. Facebook and Instagram removed posts sharing information about and protesting the Israeli attacks. Meta deleted Arabic content relating to the violence at a far greater rate than Hebrew-language posts, according to the report, confirming complaints of disparate speech enforcement in the Palestinian-Israel conflict. The report absolves Meta of “intentional bias,” however, according to The Intercept. It provides a list of 21 nonbinding policy recommendations, including increased staffing capacity to properly understand and process Arabic posts.