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Meta silencing pro-Palestinian content on social media: HRW

Jerusalem, Dec 21 (EFE).- The American tech giant Meta is censoring voices in support of Palestine on its social networks Instagram and Facebook, according to the nonprofit Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday.

The rights watchdog, in its report “Meta’s Broken Promises: Systemic Censorship of Palestine Content on Instagram and Facebook,” underlined that online censorship by the tech giant had especially increased against the backdrop of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

“Meta’s content moderation policies and systems have increasingly silenced voices in support of Palestine on Instagram and Facebook,” HRW said.

The report “documents a pattern of undue removal and suppression of protected speech including peaceful expression in support of Palestine and public debate about Palestinian human rights,” it added.

The organization reviewed 1,050 cases of online “censorship” in more than 60 countries and identified six key patterns, each recurring at least 100 times.

These included removal of content, suspension or deletion of accounts, inability to interact with content, inability to follow or tag accounts, restrictions on the using Instagram and Facebook Live feature and decrease in the visibility of accounts.

In more than 300 cases, users were unable to report the restriction on their account to the platform, which left them without any access to an effective remedy, according to HRW.

In hundreds of cases, Meta invoked its “Dangerous Organizations and Individuals” policy which bars organizations or individuals engaged in violence from its platforms for “peaceful speech on issues related to hostilities between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups.”

In addition, Meta has repeatedly removed graphic content from Palestine, effectively censoring images including photos of injured and murdered Palestinians, underlined the rights group.

Flawed Meta policies and their inconsistent and erroneous implementation stem from “overreliance on automated tools to moderate content, and undue government influence over content removals,” it said.

“Social media is an essential platform for people to bear witness and speak out against abuses while Meta’s censorship is furthering the erasure of Palestinians’ suffering,” said HRW’s acting associate technology and human rights director Deborah Brown.

HRW also recommended that Meta audit its policies to ensure that it does not remove content that is in public interest and should ensure its equitable and non-discriminatory application.

“Instead of tired apologies and empty promises, Meta should demonstrate that it is serious about addressing Palestine-related censorship once and for all by taking concrete steps toward transparency and remediation,” Brown said. EFE

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