Digital Rights Weekly Update 12 - 18 January


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Hashtag Palestine 2023: Palestinian Digital Rights During War (English)


7amleh - The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, issued its 9th annual report, “Hashtag Palestine 2023.” The report focuses on the digital rights violations that Palestinians and supporters of Palestinian rights are exposed to in the digital space and on social media. It also offers a diagnosis of the state of digital rights in 2023, and analyzes the impact of various political and field developments on the digital rights situation over the past year. Those developments had a significant impact on the digital world, freedom of speech, privacy, and security, leading to a deterioration in the digital rights situation of Palestinians and their supporters, especially after the escalation of Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, which led to widespread impacts on digital freedoms in the region and the world.



Israel Has Bought a Mass Online Influence System to Counter Antisemitism, Hamas Atrocity Denial (English)


Defense, intelligence and civilian bodies realized soon after October 7 they were losing the online battle to what sources call Hamas' 'well-oiled psychological and information warfare machine.' So they quietly purchased digital tools to fight disinformation, despite fears of future political misuse. Israel has responded to its "clear loss" to Hamas on the digital battlefield by making its first-ever purchase of a technological system capable of conducting mass online influence campaigns, according to numerous sources with knowledge of the matter.





Qatari newspaper restricted on Instagram over ‘Palestine coverage’ (English) 


Activists say the world’s largest social media platforms are censoring content about Palestine. Qatar’s Gulf Times newspaper has said that its Instagram account was restricted with access to the account blocked until Tuesday over its “coverage of Palestine”. “After our rigorous efforts in pushing the right narrative and bringing the true stories and facts from Palestine about the Israeli aggression and genocide during the last 100 days, @instagram has finally blocked Gulf Times from posting,” Gulf Times stated. “The social media channel is trying to silence our voice and silence the voice of thousands of Palestinians,” the outlet added. The account restriction comes amid several reports of censorship of social media posts by platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Since 7 October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) documented over 1,050 removal and other suppression of content on Instagram and Facebook which had been posted by Palestinians and their supporters, including about human rights abuses.




Alternative, social media help shape pro-Palestine opinion (English) 


There has been a significant growth in the pro-Palestinian views on alternative and social media, noted some experts at a panel discussion organised Monday in Doha by the Middle East Council on Global Affairs. With the Israeli-Palestinian conflict crossing over 100 days, the discussion titled ‘Shaping Public Opinion on Gaza: Disinformation, Propaganda and Alternative Narratives,’ highlighted how social media and alternative platforms have been effectively supporting the pro-Palestine views and how many of the mainstream media are using disinformation and misinformation as well as propaganda to give a wrong picture about the realities on the ground in Palestine. Opening the conversation, Dima Khatib, managing director AJ+ Channels, said: “There has been a 277% growth in our audience engagement on Palestine since October 7 until January 13. We have published 11,579 videos until Sunday in four different languages.



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