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Facebook labels Palestinian journalism “hate speech”

Facebook labels Palestinian journalism “hate speech”

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, meets with military personnel at the US Naval War College in Rhode Island, May 2017. The social media giant has proven eager to comply with censorship orders from powerful governments, especially the US and Israel. (US Naval War College

Facebook is defending its decision to shut down the page of a major Palestinian news outlet, describing the action as a move against “hate speech.”

On Saturday, the social media giant closed without warning the page of the Safa Palestinian Press Agency, which had 1.3 million followers, as well as Safa’s account on the photo sharing site Instagram.

On Tuesday, the Palestinian Media Association condemned Facebook’s widening assault on the free speech of Palestinian journalists, calling it “clear submission to the policies and dictates of the Israeli occupation which is pursuing Palestinian activists on the basis of their political views and intellectual positions and issuing prison sentences against them.”

But Facebook is justifying the removal of Safa’s account. “This page was correctly removed for violating our community standards,” a company spokesperson emailed The Electronic Intifada Monday evening. “There is no room for hate speech or incitement of violence on our platform.”

The spokesperson provided no evidence to back up the company’s accusations against Safa, but asserted, “We care about the voices, opinion and rights of all the different communities on Facebook; however, keeping our community safe is our priority.”

By referring to “hate speech” and “incitement” as justifications to silence journalists, Facebook has adopted the framework of Israel, which routinely uses such broad and ill-defined terms to describe virtually all criticism of its violent military occupation over Palestinians or of its state ideology, Zionism.

The company did not respond to a question about whether it had taken the action against Safa based on a request from Israel.

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