NewsUSA and CanadaReport: Facebook violated rights of Palestinian users

    Report: Facebook violated rights of Palestinian users


    FILE – The Facebook logo is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia, on May 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)


    Actions taken by Facebook and its parent company Meta during last year’s Gaza war violated Palestinian users’ rights to freedom of expression, free assembly, political participation and non-discrimination, says a report commissioned by the social media company that was released on Thursday.

    The report, produced by the independent consultancy Business for Social Responsibility, confirms long-standing criticism of Meta’s policies and their uneven implementation in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He found that the company was more stringent when it came to content in Arabic and more lax when it came to content in Hebrew.

    However, he found no intentional bias in Meta, either by the company as a whole or among individual employees. The report’s authors stated that they found “no evidence of racial, ethnic, nationality, or religious hostility in management teams,” noting that Meta has “employees representing different viewpoints, nationalities, races, ethnicities, and relevant religions.” for this conflict.

    What it did find were numerous instances of unintentional bias harming the rights of Palestinian and Arabic-speaking users.

    In response, Meta said it plans to implement some of the report’s recommendations, including improving its Hebrew-language “classifiers,” which help automatically remove violating posts using artificial intelligence.

    “There are no quick, overnight solutions to many of these recommendations, as BSR makes clear,” the Menlo Park, California-based company said in a blog post on Thursday. “Although we have already made significant changes as a result of this exercise, this process will take time, including time to understand how some of these recommendations can be addressed, and whether they are technically feasible.”

    Meta, the report confirms, also made serious mistakes in enforcing its policies. For example, as the Gaza war raged in May, Instagram briefly banned the hashtag #AlAqsa, a reference to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, a flashpoint in the conflict.

    Instagram owner Meta later apologized, explaining that its algorithms had confused Islam’s third holiest site with the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade group, an armed wing of the secular Fatah party.

    The report repeated some of the issues raised in internal Facebook documents that were revealed by whistleblower Frances Haugen last year, showing that the company’s problems are systemic and have long been known within Meta.

    One of the main shortcomings is the lack of moderators in languages ​​other than English, including Arabic, one of the most common on Meta platforms.

    For users in Gaza, Syria and other conflict-ridden regions of the Middle East, the issues raised in the report are nothing new.

    Israeli security and other agencies, for example, have monitored Facebook and sent thousands of orders to remove Palestinian accounts and posts in their bid to crack down on incitement.

    “They flood our system, completely overwhelming it,” Ashraf Zeitoon, Facebook’s former head of policy for the Middle East and North Africa region, who left in 2017, told The Associated Press last year. to make mistakes in favor of Israel.”


    Associated Press writer Josef Federman in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

    Source: El Nuevo Herald

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