Media Watch 23 September 2016
Editors at two of the most widely read Palestinian online publications have had their Facebook accounts disabled.
Administrators for the Facebook pages of Quds, which has more than five million “likes,” and Shehab News Agency, which has more than six million, found they could not access their accounts on Friday.
Ezz al-Din al-Akhras, a supervisor at Quds, told The Electronic Intifada that at around 2pm, three of the publication’s editors found their accounts disabled.
The same thing has happened to five editors at Shehab News Agency, a news editor for that publication told The Electronic Intifada.
Both organizations are still publishing to Facebook as some editors can still access their accounts.
Quds provided this screenshot showing what happened when one of their adminstrators tried to log in to his Facebook account.
Both believe that the suspensions are directly related to an agreement between Facebook and the Israeli government to collaborate in monitoring what Israel claims is “incitement” by Palestinians.
“The joint Facebook-Israel censorship efforts, needless to say, will be directed at Arabs, Muslims and Palestinians who oppose Israeli occupation,” The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote of the agreement earlier this month.
“There has been no given reason for closing the accounts,” Quds’ al-Akhras said. “We believe this is the result of the agreement between Israel and Facebook. It is very strange that Facebook would take part in such an agreement, given that it is supposed to be a platform for free expression and journalism.”
Al-Akhras said that it was particularly dismaying that Facebook would take this action as Quds got its start in 2011 as a Facebook-only platform.
It only launched its own website and began using other social media platforms later on.
“We learned what journalism and freedom of expression are using Facebook,” al-Akhras said, adding that Quds was the first Palestinian publication to systematically use the platform for crowdsourcing news and verifying events all over Palestine.
Its reports, usually accompanied by photos and videos, are frequently cited by The Electronic Intifada.
Over the past year, Israel has tried to blame an upsurge in confrontations between Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, on the one hand, and its soldiers and settlers, on the other, on “incitement” in social media.
It has jailed a number of Palestinians, including journalists, for posting news and criticism of Israel’s occupation on Facebook.
Palestinian journalist Samah Dweik was released on Monday after six months in prison for alleged incitement on Facebook.
In July, the Mossad-linked lawfare group Shurat HaDin filed a $1 billion lawsuit against Facebook claiming the company serves as a platform for what Israel calls “terrorist groups.”
As Greenwald noted, however, the targets have not been “terrorists” but journalists.
The editor at Shehab said that the censorship campaign is likely only in its earliest stages and he would not be surprised if in coming days many more Palestinian journalists and news organizations are targeted.
Quds’ al-Akhras said that Facebook’s action was not just a matter for Palestinians, but harmed free speech globally.
“This tells any repressive regime that they can rely on Facebook to shut down the media,” he said.
A request for comment has been sent to Facebook.
Permalink Robby Martin replied on
I had my Facebook account disabled recently, I was reported by a "friend" for impersonating someone. Despite filling out the form that came with the notification to which I had added photo I D, Facebook replied "It looks like this report belongs in a different channel" I tried again over 20 times, getting the same reply and sometimes another reply saying the I D I provided was not on their list of acceptable I D's ( It is and I added my passport I D and got the same reply ) This is my second Facebook account I'm commenting from.
I'm neither Muslim, Arab or Palestinian, I'm Irish, so Facebook are censoring any pro Palestinian activists which means they are censoring Palestinian content. Is this not a racist policy ?
Censoring of Palestinian Content
Permalink Hilary Doyle replied on
I have not had My fb account blocked but my pro Palestinian activist contacts newsfeeds have stopped.
More concerning, my Private conversations via messenger with one friend (à friend of yours too Robby) dating back over 3 years have been deleted . My sent messages remain, their responses are deleted and replaced with
"This message is no longer available because it was identified as abusive or marked as spam." Every message for over 3 years
I thought messenger was Private
Some one is playing!
Permalink Tim replied on
Perhaps volunteers could receive emails from the editors with the full post, in order to publish them in FB pages made outside the region? You think that may help?
Censorship of Palestinian pages
Permalink Zafer replied on
This shows how desperate is the occupying forces in PALESTINE to the point that they try to forbid people of any nation of expressing their views about the criminal offenses in the occupied holy land of PALESTINE
face book censoring
Permalink Barbara Lyons replied on
It seems to me that those with the most money have the most power and this entitles them to organize our world: what we read, what disease research get funding, how school are run, what politicians get elected, and on and on.
Permalink Alan8 replied on
As an American Jew, I'm outraged at Facebook's censorship. This is an abuse of power on what has become an international medium for expression and exchanging ideas. Freedom of speech is an essential right and is unacceptable.
Permalink Tiger Moto replied on
All this will do is encourage alternative sources of information and add Face book as a pro-Israeli sympatheiser.this will do it great harm in the future,when the truth is being suppressed
Permalink Rihana replied on
This is simply outrageous. Yet another example of how the oppressed continue to be oppressed. Facebook should be a forum where one can express their feelings, thoughts, news, opinions, frustrations and more - without having to fear censorship or rights to freedom of speech being taken away. In this case, when journalists and official news agencies are being targeted, we see this restrictive nature in a new light. Taking away their rights, OUR rights, as Palestinians and as human beings online is unacceptable and should shown to the world as a disgrace.
I compiled a few of my thoughts on my blog.
Feel free to check it out, comment, share, etc: