According to a new research report, “Silenced Net: The Chilling Effect among Palestinian Youth in Social Media,” the current legal, political and social environment is having a significant impact on the political activity of Palestinian youth on the internet. Many young Palestinians have had their content removed from online platforms, experienced harassment, or were interrogated in relation to what they posted on social networks. This has created a “Chilling Effect” among youth and made two-thirds of Palestinian youth afraid to express their political opinions online. 

The research, published by 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media consists of two complementary parts: A face-to-face survey of 1,200 Palestinian youth (16 – 30) and insights from 6 focus group discussions (FGDs) with Palestinian youth from Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel. Some key findings from the survey include:

76% of Palestinian youth use access internet via smartphone for of 5.5 hours per day.

2/3 of Palestinian youth are afraid to voice their political opinion online

1/3 Palestinian youth are punished by their families for sharing their political views.

 

Palestinians are subject to repression as a result of the policies and practices of several authorities including Israel who routinely uses Palestinians private information from social media in their surveillance, interrogations, arrests and prosecutions. This has impacted hundreds of Palestinians and led to a “Secondary Chilling Effect” in Palestine. As a result Palestinian youth are self-censoring after seeing family, friends and journalists arrested. 

Cyberbullying has also led to a “Secondary Chilling Effect” and women in particular face high levels of cyberbullying and gender-based violence (GBV) online. This was also detailed in 7amleh Center’s previously report, “A Violent Networrk: Gender Based Violence Against Palestinian Women Online.” 

Repression from families and authorities is contributing to shrinking space for youth’s political participation and freedom of expression online. 7amleh Center urges governments, civil society and families to protect the rights of young people to express themselves and to be engaged in democratic political participation in social media and encourages youth to continue to advocate for human rights, including digital rights.

This research is published as part of the project of “Civic and democratic participation of Palestinian youth” in cooperation with ActionAid – Palestine, in partnership with the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies – Masarat, the Alternative Information Center and 7amleh the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement.

 

To download the report “Silenced Network: the Chilling Effect among Palestinian Youth in Social Media” in English click here.

To download the survey “The Palestinian Youth Political Engagement on Social Media” (Arabic only) click here