Palestinian Digital Rights Violations in War: Silencing Voices, Disinformation, and Incitement
November 1, 2023 - 7amleh - The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, has published a comprehensive briefing on “The Palestinian Digital Rights Situation Since October 7th, 2023” The briefing provides insight into alarming violations documented by 7amleh, emphasizing the urgent need for action from tech companies and international duty-bearers.
In this paper, 7amleh documented disturbing trends observed on online platforms, including an unprecedented rise in online hate speech and incitement, the spread of mis- and disinformation, as well as the censorship of Palestinian voices. The briefing also delves into violations of digital rights due to the communications blackout in Gaza, as well as violations resulting from Israeli government actions that include arbitrary arrests, interrogations, and harassment based on social media activity. The paper includes violations by Israeli officials and the obligations of international duty-bearers in light of the documented violations of Palestinian digital rights.
Online platforms have seen a surge in hate speech and incitement to violence against Palestinians, primarily in Hebrew. 7amleh’s real-time Violence Indicator has documented over 590,000 model-classified cases of hate speech and violent content across platforms, majority of which were found on X. 7or - The Palestinian Observatory of Digital Rights Violations has documented over 1009 violations of censorship, hate speech, and incitement to violence across all platforms. 7amleh warns online hate speech and incitement have real-world consequences. 7amleh also documented how the spread of false information is being weaponized to incite violence, manipulate global opinion, and rationalize the collective punishment against Palestinians. The paper also provides detailed observations documenting how Palestinian voices are disproportionately censored on social media platforms, especially on Meta and TikTok platforms, where company policies impact the freedom of expression of journalists and human rights defenders.
7amleh’s briefing also examines Israeli actions that violate Palestinian digital rights, particularly impacting Palestinian citizens of Israel and residents of East Jerusalem. Those violations include arrests and interrogations for social media activity, harassment and doxxing of Palestinians, forced phone inspections, and incitement to violence and disinformation by Israeli officials. Further, the briefing highlights the role of international bodies and lawmakers, who are called upon to address digital rights violations and ensure equality in content moderation policies.
The briefing includes recommendations for immediate actions to end the continued violence and ensure the protection of digital rights in the region. 7amleh calls for major social media platforms and companies to implement stronger measures to protect Palestinian digital rights and to investigate and take appropriate action in cases of incitement to violence or hate speech in all languages. 7amleh also calls on international duty-bearers, including the United Nations and the European Commission, to act towards putting an end to the systemic and deliberate discriminatory online policies and practices documented in the paper.
7amleh underscores the urgency of addressing these digital rights violations to protect freedom of expression, access to information, and the safety of Palestinians in the digital age.
To read the briefing, click here.
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