A Palestinian NGO has accused social media companies of “working closely” with the Israeli government to censor pro-Palestinian content after Israel’s attacks escalated.
Peaceful protests in the occupied neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem against forced expulsions of Palestinians by Israeli authorities have caused a wave of support on social media platforms. Thousands of tweets, Facebook messages, and TikTok videos referring to hashtags like #savesheikhjarrah have been shared.
However, many users have reported that their Facebook or Instagram messages have been blocked, hidden or deleted in solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah residents.
“There has been massive repression by Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and other social media companies on posts related to Sheikh Jarrah,” Nadam Nashif, the director of 7amleh, a Palestinian group for digital rights, told media.
The removal and blocking of posts mentioning the possible expulsion of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah were ‘voluntary and out of court’, Nashif said, referring to 200 testimonies his organization gathered by speaking directly to people whose posts has been removed.
“There is close cooperation between social media companies and the Israeli government, who are abusing it and trying to voice their voices against the Israeli occupation,” he added.
“It has, of course, harmed the freedom of expression and comes at an important time of various offences committed by the Israeli government.”
In addition, online posts attacking solidarity with Palestinians by Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem have also been removed or blocked, users reported.
The storming of the third holiest site of Islam served as a catalyst for Israel’s continued bombing of the besieged Gaza Strip.
The accusations by 7almeh come amid a meeting between Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the CEOs of TikTok and Facebook last week, Israeli media reported.
Gantz insisted that social media companies remove content that incites violence and ‘spreads false information. According to the report, the companies expressed their commitment to quickly and effectively remove content that incites violence.