A digital rights group and a number of Palestinian news agencies sent a formal complaint to Facebook on Wednesday “for the arbitrary censorship of content posted on the platform by Palestinian journalists and commentators”.
The complaint, which was also sent to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, requests an urgent review of, and explanation for, the decisions made by Facebook to suspend accounts and posts which are affiliated to Palestinian news agencies and commentators.
Digital rights group Sada Social has been monitoring the suspension of Palestinian content and accounts on Facebook and other social media platforms since 2017. This year the group has documented hundreds of instances of inappropriate censorship of social media content that supports the rights of Palestinians by social media platforms. They are currently investigating 159 Palestinian-related Facebook accounts, which appear to have been censored without good reason.
The complaints to Facebook have been made by Sada Social, Al-Hadath Newspaper, PalToday News Agency, Metras, Mumen Jameel Muhammed Meqdad, and Ultra Palestine. Their complaints include that Facebook has breached their fundamental right to freedom of expression and Facebook’s own Corporate Human Rights Policy.
London law firm Bindmans LLP partner Tayab Ali, who represented the group, stated: “Under Facebook’s own policy our clients are defined as ‘human rights defenders’ because they are raising human rights concerns about the treatment of Palestinians and the long-standing Israeli occupation of Palestine. It is clear why the Israeli authorities want to interfere with our clients’ work in bringing human rights violations to the attention of the world.”
“Facebook cannot allow itself to be used to silence the voices of journalists and commentators raising human rights concerns, particularly during the current questionable military attacks on Palestinian civilians.”
The complaint asks Facebook to review its decision-making process and explain why the accounts were closed, suspended or posts taken down and whether in doing so an algorithm or human discretion was used.