The Stream

Are social platforms deliberately silencing Palestinians?

On Monday, May 17 at 19:30 GMT:
Palestinians are not only besieged in Gaza but, increasingly, on social media, too.

Disappearing hashtags, the removal of advertisements for events supporting Palestinian causes and the suspension of Palestinian social media accounts are just some of the ways Palestinian voices are apparently being suppressed online.

Sada Social, an organisation set up in an attempt to advocate for and protect content shared by Palestinians, has recorded more than 200 restrictions in the past week on posts related to the Sheikh Jarrah demonstrations in occupied East Jerusalem.

On Instagram and Facebook, several Palestinian activists and citizens documenting the events in Jerusalem have seen their content disappear and the Arabic hashtags Al Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah were “mistakenly restricted” according to Facebook. The company said in a statement that an automated update caused content re-shared by multiple users to go missing, affecting posts on Sheikh Jarrah, Colombia, and Indigenous communities in the United States and Canada.

On Twitter, the account of writer Mariam Barghouti was suspended after she published op-eds in Al Jazeera and The Washington Post criticising Israel’s heavy-handed crackdown on Palestinian protests in occupied East Jerusalem. After an uproar, her account was reinstated, and Twitter said it was removed by mistake.

In a petition circulated online, 7amleh, SMEX, Access Now, and other digital rights groups called on social media companies to use “transparent and coherent moderation policies” and be more open when takedowns happen.

Silencing Palestinian digital activism is not new, it’s been happening for years. In this episode, we’ll take a look how Palestinian voices continue to be suppressed and ask what they’re doing to fight back.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Mona Shtaya, @Monashtayya
Local Advocacy Manager, @7amleh

Marwa Fatafta, @marwasf
MENA Policy Manager, @AccessNow

Jalal Abu Khater, @JalalAK_jojo