Thursday 21 October 2021

Facebook should have independent Palestine-Israel bias review, board says

The social networking giant refused to tell the Oversight Board if Tel Aviv unofficially approached it to take down content about the escalation of Palestine-Israel violence in April and May.

Accusations of bias in administering content about Palestine and Israel should be independently looked into, the body which oversees certain significant Facebook content administration decisions said on Tuesday.

This came as part of an Oversight Board case about the sharing of an Al Jazeera Arabic post, which pertained to May's deadly Gaza escalation, by an Egyptian account.

Facebook was asked if it was approached by Tel Aviv, officially or unofficially, to take down content about the escalation of violence that occurred in Palestine-Israel this April and May.


This escalation culminated in more than 260 Palestinians killed during a deadly 11-day Israeli bombing campaign against the Gaza Strip.


The social networking giant refused to tell the Oversight Board if it was unofficially contacted, though it did confirm that it was not officially asked to take anything down.


The body said it had received comments from the general public saying Facebook "disproportionately removed or demoted content from Palestinian users and content in Arabic, especially in comparison to its treatment of posts threatening anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian violence within Israel."


The independent, though company-created, watchdog called for these matters "to be looked at independently, in addition to urging "greater transparency with regard to [Facebook's] treatment of government requests."


Concerning the post that sparked the review itself, the watchdog's statement said Al Jazeera uploaded an image of two individuals in headbands bearing the logo of Hamas' military wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades.

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