Facebook Violated Rights Of Palestinian Users, Report Finds - worldsnews
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Facebook Violated Rights Of Palestinian Users, Report Finds

According to a research commissioned by the social media firm, Facebook and its parent company Meta's actions during the 2014 Gaza War breached the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political engagement, and non-discrimination.

In relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the study released on Thursday by independent consulting company Business for Social Responsibility supported long-standing complaints about Meta's policies and their inconsistent application: It discovered that the business overly enforced regulations for material in Arabic and underenforced standards for content in Hebrew.

However, it did not uncover any evidence of deliberate prejudice at Meta, either on the part of the business as a whole or specific workers. There was "no indication of racial, ethnic, national, or religious animus in governing teams," according to the report's authors, who also observed that Meta had "workers representing numerous opinions, nations, races, ethnicities, and faiths relevant to this issue."

Instead, it uncovered several instances of unintentional prejudice that violated the rights of Arabic- and Palestinian-speaking individuals.

In response, Meta stated that it intended to put some of the report's suggestions into practice, including enhancing its Hebrew "classifiers," which support the automated removal of infringing postings using artificial intelligence.

As BSR makes clear, many of these ideas cannot be implemented overnight, the Menlo Park, California-based business stated in a blog post on Thursday. "While we have already implemented substantial adjustments as a consequence of this exercise, this process will take time, including time to determine how some of these recommendations may best be addressed and whether they are technically viable," the statement continued.

The research indicated that Meta also committed severe enforcement mistakes. For instance, Instagram momentarily outlawed the hashtag #AlAqsa, which refers to the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City, a flashpoint in the conflict, when the Gaza War raged last May.

Instagram's owner, Meta, later issued an apology, stating that its algorithms had confused the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, an armed wing of the secular Fatah party, for the third-holiest shrine in Islam.

The audit confirmed concerns highlighted in internal papers released by Facebook leaker Frances Haugen last year, demonstrating that the company's troubles are widespread and have been well-known within Meta for a long time.

The absence of moderators who speak languages other English, particularly Arabic, one of the most widely used languages on Meta's platforms, is a major problem.

The concerns identified in the research are nothing new for users in Gaza, Syria, and other conflict-torn Middle Eastern countries.

For instance, in an effort to combat incitement, Israeli security services and watchdogs have been monitoring Facebook and have sent hundreds of requests to remove Palestinian accounts and posts.

Ashraf Zeitoon, Facebook's former head of policy for the Middle East and North Africa area, who resigned in 2017, told The Associated Press last year that "they overwhelm our system, utterly dominating it." "That compels the system to err on Israel's side."

May 2021 saw a spike in violence in Israel, with weeks of unrest in east Jerusalem leading to an 11-day conflict with Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip. Israel itself was the scene of the greatest intercommunal violence between Jewish and Arab residents in years as a result of the violence spreading there.

Israel's national police commander, Kobi Shabtai, told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper this week that he thought social media had fanned the intercommunal conflict in an interview. He urged social media to be turned off in the event of similar violence and recalled last year's suggestion to stop social media to put out the fires.

He was cited as adding, "I'm talking about completely shutting down the networks, settling the situation on the ground, then when it's peaceful reactivating them." We live in a democratic nation, yet there are restrictions.

The police issued a statement noting that his idea was only intended for severe instances after the comments generated a stir. According to Omer Barlev, the Cabinet minister in charge of the police, Shabtai lacks the jurisdiction to enact such a restriction.