Thousands of accounts and pages have faced removal, shadow-ban, or suspension. Facebook crackdown put Palestinians under severe control not for the content they share, but for the identity they try to make known for the world.
Social media has always had a critical role in raising awareness over the social movement. The new media provides with a digital microphone for people who suffer long-time oppression by mainstream media.
As with Palestine, however, social media has mostly been a means of crackdown by superpower affiliated with Tel Aviv. Palestinian activists and groups faced removal from various platforms one after another. Facebook is the forerunner en route.
Authoritarian regimes are known for their tendency to regulate social media. As with the Palestine issue, we are experiencing digital discrimination centered in Facebook crackdown. Tel Aviv, along with its western allies, appears to be doing everything they can to keep controlling the Palestinian voice. Whether by military siege, or digital crackdown, the truth about the occupation and Israeli apparatus must remain in haze.
Shehab News Agency’s page on Facebook is a most recent example which faced removal. The outlet is one of the most popular pages on social media addressing the Palestinian issue. Over seven million people used to follow Shehab on Facebook before removal.
“This is a violation of human rights and international laws that guarantee freedom of opinion and expressions. It is a clear targeting of Palestinian content,” said Remah Mubarak, Shehab director in response to the Facebook crackdown on the outlet.
Facebook crackdown, though, is neither unexpected nor unprecedented in its history. Following the pressures by US congress on the media, the basic policies of Facebook has gone through overhaul. From then on, addressing US policies and strategies found clear priority over freedom of expression, justice and fight against discrimination.
Systemic Facebook Crackdown
Facebook blocks anything that is complimentary about Palestine and Palestinians. As Shehab director stressed, the outlet has respected all Facebook regulation while keeping incessant contact with its officials: “During the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza, our social media team at Shehab was in touch with a specialised team from Facebook. The platform imposed many unreasonable restrictions on us in terms of publishing and editing. Despite our agreement and commitment to these conditions, Facebook deleted our page completely.”
Shehab has been the target of similar attacks by Facebook for four other times since 11 years ago.
Media experts and campaigners have extensively panned and denounced the decision by Facebook. It is “arbitrary and unjust” as Palestinian media dubbed it. The move taken by Facebook is merely part of a campaign of blatant Israeli provocation against the Palestinian activists.
Social media censorship of incidents in the Sheikh Jarrah in recent weeks is also a highlight of the recent months. People residing in the region, along with Palestinian and foreign campaigners, have been the target of systemic attack by Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In June, 2021, there has been around 180 infractions against Palestinian accounts on social media. As with Facebook, there were more than 70 confirmed breaches. According to the Israeli Ministry of Justice, Facebook “positively” reacted to about 85% of Israel’s demands to delete or ban accounts or users, or convey content data in 2018.
Israel, in effect, acknowledged its role in Facebook crackdown case three years ago. While the crackdown is not limited to Facebook, the social media giant is the pioneer in waging new waves of suppressive policies against Palestine, its people and related activists. Twitter, Instagram, Reddit and similar platform has had their own share of crackdown against the voiceless people in Palestine.