Facebook appoints Israeli censor to oversight board

Man stands in front of screen

Facebook habitually censors Palestinian journalists and news organizations on its platform. (Anthony Quintano / Flickr

Facebook has hired the former director-general of Israel’s justice ministry as a member of its new oversight board.

This body will effectively determine what content to censor or permit on the social media platform.

Emi Palmor headed the justice ministry from 2014 until she was dismissed from her post last year.

Under her direction, the Israeli justice ministry “petitioned Facebook to censor legitimate speech of human rights defenders and journalists because it was deemed politically undesirable,” Palestinian civil society groups stated this month.

The groups condemned Facebook’s selection of Palmor, warning of her potential role in muzzling freedom of expression and censoring human rights defenders, particularly Palestinian, Arab and Muslim voices on the platform.

The Palestine Digital Rights Coalition, the Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council and the Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network are urging Facebook to “consider the grave consequences that electing Emi Palmor may have particularly on Palestinian human rights defenders and on freedom of expression online in defense of Palestinian rights.”

Who is Emi Palmor?

Palmor’s time as the top civil servant at the Israeli justice ministry coincided with the term of Ayelet Shaked as the minister.

Ironically, Shaked became notorious prior to assuming that role for making a Facebook post inciting the genocide of Palestinians.

Under Palmor’s oversight, the ministry formed a cyber unit successfully resulting in the removal of tens of thousands of Palestinian posts from social media platforms.

Adalah, a group that advocates for the rights of Palestinians in Israel, argued against the legality of the unit’s practices.

According to Adalah, the unit makes requests to the Israeli state attorney, appealing to “Facebook and Google to remove, restrict or suspend access to certain content, pages or users.”

Adalah says this is carried out with “no transparency or legal procedure whatsoever, and with no framework for users to defend themselves against allegations that their posts were illegal or warranted removal.”

Facebook protects Israel

There have been increased calls for censorship on social media platforms by US media and political elites, especially after they drummed up the evidence-free or false allegations of a massive Russian-backed effort to use social media to influence the 2016 US presidential elections in favor of Donald Trump.

The European Union has pledged to help Israel fight against free speech.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, testified before the US Congress in October, where he was asked to address the allegations from politicians.

New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added her voice to a bipartisan chorus demanding Facebook implement a so-called fact-checking process for political ads.

But appointing Silicon Valley corporations to be the arbiters of truth and decide what content “to take down or leave up” will ultimately serve to crush dissent and censor the most vulnerable voices.

Palestinians can already testify to this.

Facebook habitually takes down pages of Palestinian news organizations, often without prior notice or justification.

Often times, Facebook is enforcing censorship on behalf of Israel to the praise of right-wing Israeli leaders.

There have been many examples over the years of social media platforms shutting down accounts and pages of Palestinian news sites, journalists and activists after caving in to political pressure from Israel.

Facebook’s own documentation reveals that it complies with the vast majority of removal requests from the Israeli government.

The number of Israeli government requests has increased sharply over the years, as has Facebook’s willingness to censor its users on Israel’s behalf.




A fine example of how an idealistic notion gets turned into a cynical practice. Tim Berners-Lee wanted the internet to be an open, democratic forum; but he wasn't out to make as much money as possible. Zuckerberg is merely a capitalist with a keyboard. As an American capitalist his identification with US power is inevitable. That power has long supported Israel and dismissed the Palestinians. Had the US voted for the UN resolution of January 1976, we might now have a peaceful Palestine. But there's the rub. Neither the US nor Israel wants a peaceful Middle East. Conflict is in the interest of both US hegemony and Israeli expansion; hence the "peace process" which involves siding with Israeli interests and branding the Palestinians perfidious and intransigent, a topsy-turvy perspective. Propaganda is crucial. The world has to be kept misinformed. That is what the Western media is for. That's why most people have no idea about Sykes-Picot, have never heard of Deir Yassin and think Israel is a fully functioning democracy. Zuckerberg is doing his bit for the propaganda effort. After the first intifada, the Israelis had a problem: liberal opinion across the world began to question Israel's actions. We now have BDS. Hence the ever great need for misinformation and stupefaction. Emi Palmor will use her position to expunge all but Israeli propaganda. Truth won't get a look in. Yet there is an opportunity here: when people know the truth is suppressed they become sceptical about what is put before them. That's our job: to ensure we spread far, wide and deep the awareness that FB is an Israeli propaganda platform. All FB users should post as much truth about Israel/Palestine as they can and keep sharing it. But look how Zuckerberg has got rich. We need an alternative to capitalist platforms like FB. We need digitally savvy egalitarians and anarchists to provide an alternative. FB is a business like any other. We need co-operative social media. We need platforms for truth.


Brilliantly put, Frank. Thank you.


An alternative is existing : Telegram. It is a protocol note a platform.
I hope you will be able to find that reply helpful.

Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.