Meta’s Nick Clegg assures EU that Palestinians are being censored

Nick Clegg learned long ago that pleasing Israel is mandatory to have a successful career in politics or business. (UK National Archives/Wikimedia Commons)

The argument for why politicians should never be trusted can be summed up in two words: Nick Clegg.

Fifteen years ago this week, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead – the first in a series of major attacks on Gaza.

Nick Clegg was leader of the Liberal Democrats, a British political party, at the time. He responded to the attack by urging a ban on weapons exports to Israel.

From 2010 to 2015, Clegg was in a position to insist that such a ban be introduced. He was deputy prime minister in a coalition government with the Conservatives.

Far from banning weapons exports to Israel, that government kept on authorizing them.

Britain granted licenses worth millions of dollars for deliveries of arms and their components to Israel during the six months before the 2014 war against Gaza. The Liberal Democrats were similarly treacherous on domestic issues, famously breaking a pledge not to increase students’ tuition fees.

Today, Nick Clegg is a senior figure in Meta, the corporation which owns Facebook and Instagram.

Both of these social media platforms have been actively censoring Palestinians. Clegg is directly involved in assuring the authorities that the censorship is far-reaching.

Censorship on the rise

In October, he held discussions on this subject with the European Commission (the European Union’s executive).

A readout from his meeting – obtained via a freedom of information request – paraphrases the main points Clegg made. According to the readout, Clegg indicated that Meta’s administrators have a “robust process” in place for removing posts and “do not have any issues” in terms of implementing the EU’s rules on “terrorist content.”

Those rules are extremely broad.

They require the rapid censorship of material deemed to advocate “terrorist offenses” either “directly or indirectly.” Advocacy can include the “glorification of terrorism.”

Material sympathetic to Palestinians and their right to resist Israel’s brutality is being removed from social media websites because of such rules.

Meta’s censorship began long before 7 October.

In 2020, Facebook recruited Eli Palmor to its oversight board, which makes final decisions about suppressing posts. Palmor had previously headed Israel’s efforts to censor Palestinians.

The censorship has undoubtedly increased amid Israel’s current genocidal war against Gaza.

Meta stated earlier this month that it removes “any imagery produced by a Dangerous Organization or Individual, unless it is clear that the user is sharing it in a news reporting or condemnation context.”

The concept of “dangerous organizations” is mainly limited to what are called “non-state actors.”

Supporters of Israel’s government-approved genocide are not viewed as dangerous by Meta. They may continue spewing hate to their hearts’ content.

Zionism – the ideology undergirding the Gaza genocide and other crimes against Palestinians – is not included in Meta’s list of harmful ideologies.

Almost 15 years ago, Nick Clegg gave some hope to Palestine solidarity campaigners when he called for an arms ban against Israel.

Like so many other politicians, he soon learned that loving Israel is mandatory if you want to scale the dizzy heights in government or business.