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Weekly Update 23 - 29 September
We, the undersigned human rights and civil society organizations, commend the publication of Business for Social Responsibility’s (BSR) Human Rights Due Diligence Report of Arabic and Hebrew content on Meta’s platforms in the Israel/Palestine context in May 2021. For years, digital and human rights organizations have been calling for an independent review of Meta’s content moderation policies. These calls came as a result of Meta’s constant and deliberate actions to censor the voices and narrative of Palestinians and those in solidarity with them. Thus, denying Palestinians their right to freedom of expression, affecting their freedom of assembly and freedom to political participation and non-discrimination and further distorting the international community’s understanding of what is happening in Palestine.
Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor
Meta Platforms, Inc. must address the serious flaws in its system and a biased policy that impeded millions of users’ freedom of publication and expression during the violent events in the Palestinian territories in May 2021, Euro-Med Monitor said in a statement. Euro-Med Monitor reviewed an independent study conducted by the Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) on the policies of the Meta company, which owns Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. The study concluded that, due to biased practices and censorship of Arabic content during the May 2021 events, Meta’s actions negatively impacted Palestinian users’ rights to freedom of expression, assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination, in part by restricting users’ ability to share information as it happens.
The long-awaited report assessing the impact of the content moderation policies of Meta – the parent company of Facebook and Instagram - on Palestinian human rights during the surge in violence in Israel and Palestine in May 2021, might well be a landmark in the struggle for digital justice. It reinforces what civil society organisations and human rights defenders have been saying and documenting for years about the company’s discriminatory policies against Palestinians and their supporters.
On 19 September 2022, it was reported that Booking.com will add a “safety and human rights warning” to the properties of Israeli settlers on illegally constructed properties on appropriated Palestinian lands in the West Bank. The warning is intended to highlight to potential clients that “visiting the area may be accompanied by an increased risk to safety and human rights, or other risks to the local community and visitors”. In addition, the term “occupied” will be added to illegal settler properties in the occupied West bank, on the English version of the Booking.com website.
An independent audit of Meta’s handling of online content during the two-week war between Israel and the militant Palestinian group Hamas last year found that the social media giant had denied Palestinian users their freedom of expression by erroneously removing their content and punishing Arabic-speaking users more heavily than Hebrew-speaking ones. The report by the consultancy Business for Social Responsibility, is yet another indictment of the company’s ability to police its global public square and to balance freedom of expression against the potential for harm in a tense international context.
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