On the Day of Meta’s Annual Shareholder Meeting, Rights Groups Demand: End the Censorship of Palestinians   


On the Day of Meta’s Annual Shareholder Meeting, Rights Groups Demand: End the Censorship of Palestinians   

Rights groups led a Digital Day of Action on the day of Meta’s annual shareholder meeting to demand that Meta end the censorship and discrimination against Palestinian users, and respond to the demands of the Meta: #LetPalestineSpeak campaign. 

During the meeting, Meta shareholder and asset manager at Zevin Asset Management, Marcela Pinilla, submitted a question during the Q&A period about the steps Meta is taking to conduct heightened human rights due diligence in Israel/Palestine following the International Court of Justice’s assessment of “plausible genocide” in Gaza. Unsurprisingly, Meta did not even allow Marcela to present the question during the meeting. 

“Meta has a clear obligation under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to protect the rights of all of its users,” said Nadim Nashif, General Director of 7amleh, The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media. “From the content moderation issues highlighted in the BSR Human Rights Due Diligence Report published in 2022, to the clear instances of AI-driven dehumanization and ad campaigns advocating for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians on Facebook, Meta continues to not live up to these obligations.”

Local organizers from the Shut It Down Bay Area coalition also hosted their own action in California – a “digital dispatch” from the Meta headquarters in Menlo Park – in which they raised a banner reading “Meta is Complicit in Genocide” in front of Meta’s street sign and called on the company to stop violating the rights of Palestinians and Palestine advocates on its platforms. View the coalition’s video on Instagram here.   

The Day of Action generated hundreds of posts on X targeted at Meta and Meta’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, with demands for the company to stop putting “profit over people” and stop paying “lip service to its human rights obligations.” Dozens of organizations amplified these calls with a social media graphic uplifting the campaign petition and demanding Meta shareholders take action to hold the company accountable.

Leading up to the Day of Action, more than 150 Meta workers signed a letter to Mark Zuckerberg demanding Meta immediately drop its policies censoring Palestinians and Palestinian rights speech. This coincides with two different letters sent to Meta by Senator Elizabeth Warren demanding answers for the systemic harms and silencing Palestinians are experiencing on Meta’s platforms. 

Even though Palestinians in Gaza are living through one of the most brutal military assaults in recent history, rights groups have documented a significant rise in Meta’s censorship of content advocating for Palestinian rights over the past seven months. Meanwhile, Meta profited from genocidal ads on Facebook and has failed to adequately remove hate speech and content targeting Palestinians across all of its platforms. Meta’s applications are being used by the Israeli military to feed data to its AI-driven killing systems and programs. Recent reporting revealed that Meta was aware of vulnerabilities to WhatsApp user data, and this has been linked to Israel’s AI-fueled, geotargeting bombing campaign across Gaza.

A new report by PensionBee, demonstrates an increasing number of pension holders within big tech are growing concerned over the risks of Artificial Intelligence (AI) developments by tech giants such as Meta and are calling for increased transparency and accountability. The Palestinian digital rights organization, 7amleh, has already exposed AI abuses in the Palestine/Israel context, raising awareness around AI-driven dehumanization of Palestinians on Meta’s platforms WhatsApp and Instagram.

“Amid Israel’s horrific ongoing violence in Gaza, social media giants like Meta can––and must––play a critical role in providing a space to record human rights violations and war crimes. Instead of using its platform to build a world where all people are treated with dignity, Meta is choosing to embolden those perpetuating human rights abuses, and subjecting Palestinians and advocates for Palestinian freedom through shadowbanning, content removal, and account suspensions. On the day of Meta’s Annual General Meeting, civil society, shareholders, and activists came together to say enough is enough: Meta must #LetPalestineSpeak,” said Sarah Philips, Campaigner at Fight for the Future.

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