In 2020, 7amleh continued to work to make the Internet a safe, fair and free digital space for Palestinians. Despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, 7amleh was able to train 2,500 people, engage 500,000 people through online campaigns and to reach over 2 million people with our video content.
7amleh was awarded the Freedom of Expression Award by Index on Censorship for its outstanding work educating the Palestinian public and the world about Palestinian digital rights issues.
7amleh continued to advocate for Palestinian digital rights locally and internationall and wokred to influence decision makers at technology companies and within governments. This included work with local partners who are a part of the Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition (PDRC), as well as international partners woking on human rights and freedom of expression.
7amleh also worked to continue to provide trainings in digital security, campaigning, advocacy and reputation management. Whereas some of the trainings were held in-person under health precautions, part of the digital security trainings were held as online sessions, and a digital storytelling course was entirely transformed into an E-Learning course that almost 500 people participated in. Similarly, 7amleh’s flagship Palestine Digital Activism Forum (PDAF), on short notice, was digitized and reached more than1,000,000 people .
Throughout the year, 7amleh initiated and participated in various campaigns focusing on improving the awareness on digital security, especially in the light of the coronavirus, as well as gender-based violence online, which has been increasing since the start of the coronavirus.Most of the campaigns were organized in Arabic, in an attempt to fill the gap in Arabic content on these subjects.
7amleh published its two annual publications the “Hashtag Palestine 2019” and “Index of Racism 2019” outlining the status of digital rights in Palestine, and the anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab Racism in 2019 respectively. Additionally, 7amleh published research, position papers and reports on issues including e-commerce, content moderation, fake news, and specifically on the coronavirus impact on digital rights, as well as a handbook on digital rights.
|7amleh in numbers 2020:|
|Video views:||2 million on Facebook 65,000 on Youtube|
|Engagement on Social Media:||500,000|
|Research and Reports:||9|
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, 7amleh adapted several of its trainings to be delivered online This enabled 7amleh to take the necessary health precautions and to meet the increased need for digital security workshops, as people are spending increasing time online during the pandemic, and to deliver campaigning and storytelling trainings, which 7amleh developed an e-course.
Advocacy Training for Digital Rights Advocates
7amleh provided the first Digital Rights Defenders training for Palestinian youth . The two day workshop further enhanced the skills of 20 Palestinian youth to advocate for their digital rights and further build their advocacy skills.
7amleh trained a total of 1660 Palestinians in digital security and gender-sensitive digital security in 2020. Despite the movement restrictions, health precautions and regulations due to the coronavirus, 7amleh increased the number of trainees compared to 2019. Unique trainings were also developed including ‘digital security and threat-modeling for journalists’, 20 human rights and civil society group employees in ‘online digital security’, and 12 persons on ‘digital security for organizations , focusing on how to improve personal and organizational security and the interrelation between the two’.
Protecting NGOs Online
7amleh worked with 50 Palestinian Human Rights Organizations to bettter protect their reputations online. With Palestinian human rights organizations at a high risk of attack from Israeli authorities for their work in protection of Palestinian rights, 7amleh pioneered a ‘Reputation Management’ training for NGOs including a series of five workshops and 20 one-on-one sessions.
As part of responding to the needs of civil society, 7amleh held a workshop on digital marketing for Palestinian artists , mobile journalism, as well as a workshop on editing the digital encyclopedia Wikipedia , in order to increase the amount and quality of Arabic-language and Palestinian content. More than 60 people participated in these workshops, and more than 2500 watched the Facebook live-feed.
Training of Trainers
As part of 7amleh’s continuous capacity-building of its trainers, two trainings of trainers (ToT) were conducted, developing the skills of 13 existing trainers , and adding 27 new trainers specifically for the Jerusalem area, 14 of which later on participated in an advanced training of trainers .
7amleh’s research and documentation of digital rights of Palestinians and their violations by governmental and private sector entities serves as a basis for our advocacy work with local and international partners.
Hashtag Palestine 2019
7amleh's annual publication "Hashtag Palestine 2019" gives an overview of digital rights violations by state as well as corporate actors throughout the year 2019, illustrating an increase in violations compared to the previous year.
Index of Racism and Incitement 2019
7amleh published the Index of Racism and Incitement 2019 , an annual publication that analyses Hebrew content inciting and advocating for violence against Palestinians in public social media pages. According to the research, 2019 saw a 14% increase in violent speech against Arabs and Palestinians, with one of every 11 posts including incitement against Arabs, and an inciting post being published on average every 64 seconds.
Access Denied - E-Commerce in Palestine
“Access Denied - E-Commerce in Palestine” analyses how denial of Palestinians to e-commerce platforms, such as PayPal, hinders Palestinian economic development and infringes on Palestinians right to access the digital economy. The research also highlights how Palestinians are overcoming these challenges. The research also highlights how Palestinians are overcoming these challenges, and reached almost 50,000 people through 7amleh’s social media channels.
YouTube’s Content Moderation Policies
The research “Are YouTube’s Policies Biased Against Palestinians?” highlights how YouTube's content removal practices are violating Palestinian digital rights - the second most used social media platform in Palestine. More than 60,000 people were reached and over 37,000 people viewed the video on 7amleh’s social media channels.
Fake News in Palestine
7amleh’s research “Fake News in Palestine: Exploratory Research into the Content, Channels, and Responses” found that 72% of Palestinians have been exposed to Fake News. Fake news have been increasing in Palestine and worldwide alongside the spread of the coronavirus. The publication was followed by an online seminar to discuss its outcomes and recommendations.
Digital Safety Among Jerusalemite Children and Youth
The publication of 7amleh’s report “Digital Safety Among Jerusalemite Children and Youth” was accompanied by a webinar discussing the findings. The report analyses the knowledge of digital security of Palestinian Children, Youth, their parents and counsellors in Jerusalem - unlawfully occupied by Israel - and finds that due to a fear of persecution, more than ⅔ of Palestinian children and youth refrain from political engagement online.
Israeli Impact on Palestinian Digital Rights During the Coronavirus Pandemicّ
This research, relevant given the increase of digital rights violations with the coronavirus pandemic, analyses how Israeli policies, under the guise of a coronavirus response, further endanger Palestinian digital rights. The research was featured as part of the Columbia University’s ‘Global Freedom of Expression’ materials . The publication also reached 200,000 users on Social Media with 20,000 engagements.
Discrepancies between the Israeli Ministry of Health's Coronavirus Campaigns
7amleh published a report in Arabic illustrating the discrepancies between the information about the coronavirus made available by the Israeli Ministry of Health in Hebrew and Arabic, through written and visual materials on its website, two official Facebook pages and YouTube channel, which showed discrimination against Palestinian Citizens of Israel.
Digital Rights and the Palestinian Authority Between Emergency and Pandemic
“Digital Rights in Palestine Between Emergency and Pandemic” is a position paper that 7amleh published about the Palestinian Authority’s unlawful emergency coronavirus legislation and how it impacted Palestinian’s digital rights and privacy. Digital Rights Monitoring In 2020, 7amleh monitored the media for publications related to digital rights and documented cases of censorship on social media platforms and arrests by authorities. On a weekly basis 7amleh shared the most important Palestinian digital rights news with the public through our Digital Rights Weekly Updates.
7amleh continued to advocate for international law, human rights and digital rights to be upheld by governments and technology companies through local and international advocacy work. This work included educating and advocating to the public, influential organizations, multi-governmental bodies, technoology companies and inidividuals about the dangers and consequences of policies and practices on Palestinian digital rights. In particular, we focused on proposed Israeli legislations, use of and export of spyware and facial recognition technologies, the Palestinian Authority’s Cybercrimes law and the impact of Facebook, Google Maps, PayPal and Airbnb on Palestinians right to freedom of expression, self-determination and privacy.
Palestine Digital Activism Forum
The third annual Palestine Digital Activism Forum (PDAF) attracted an audience of around 700 people offline and 600,000 people online. Over 40 international experts joined the panels and workshops on digital rights, security and campaigning in Palestine and worldwide. To see the full programme click here, and see a video of Haifa workshops, video of Taibeyh workshops, video of Workshops in the West Bank, photos of the first day panel-discussions.
Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition (PDRC)
In light of increasing violations of Palestinian digital rights, in December 2019 7amleh initiated the founding of the first of its kind Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition comprimising numerous Palestinian digital rights, human rights and media organisations. The DRC includes several local and international organizations working in Palestine on human rights issues.
Social Media Companies
7amleh advocated to policy makers at the governmental level and inside technology companies throughout 2020. This advocacy was supported by the development of the following position papers which highlight trends on social media that are shrinking the space for freedom of expression.
Online Smear Campaigns and Deplatforming
Online Smear Campaigns and Deplatforming :The Silencing and Delegitimization of Palestinian Human Rights Defenders, Activists and Organizations" focuses on the online strategies and tactics Israel is using to shrink the space for Palestinian human rights defenders, activists and organizations to advocate for Palestinian rights.
Systematic Efforts to Silence Palestinian Content on Social Media
“Systematic Efforts to Silence Palestinian Content on Social Media”, looks at Israel's strategic use of social media platforms, particularly Facebook, to limit Palestinian political content and support for Palestinian rights.
7amleh has been working to protect Palestinian users on Facebook’s platforms. In the past year, there continued to be violations to many Palestinians' digital rights. However, Facebook worked with 7amleh and Palestinain civil society to make the platform more safe for Palestinians to use, to make sure that Palestinians are included in relevant policy development processes and to build the capacity of Palestinian civil society to utilize Facebook’s products safely and effectively.
- - Facebook added Palestine to Facebook’s Safety Center .
- - Facebook worked to help keep women safer online and featured 7amleh’s Arabic-language a video “You Are Not Alone” in their Facebook Safety Center.
- - 7amleh providing input into policies related to child pornography, hatespeech and anti-semitism.
- - 7amleh hosted one dialogue session with Facebook and civil society
- - 7amleh hosted one dialogue session with Facebook and journalists
Facebook Oversight Board
In response to the selection of Emi Palmor, a former general director of the Ministry of Justice where the Israeli Cyber Unit is housed and which has worked to lobby Facebook to remove thousands of pieces of human rights related content, to the Facebook Oversight Board, 7amleh launched the #FacebookCensorsPalestine campaign with global partners with over 23,000 people signing the petition.
Google’s Knowledge Panel
Google’s knowledge panels include misleading information about several prominent Palestinians and list their birthplace as Israel, even if they were born in Palestine. 7amleh launched a campaign directed to Google to ensure historically accurate information in line with international law. Whereas many Palestinians born before the creation of the State of Israel have their birthplace listed as ‘Israel’, others, born in Palestine, don’t have any country listed.
7amleh has been working to ensure that Palestinians and human rights are respected in mapping products. In particular, 7amleh has been campaigning for several years to #PutPalestineontheMap. In late February 2020, WIRED Magazine published an article about Google Maps that mentioned 7amleh’s work and how the company does not accurately reflect Palestinian space. In July 2020, 7amleh renewed the campaign for Google to put Palestine on the Map with the Palestine Digital Rights Coalition, and organized a twitter storm #GoogleMapsPalestine, and email campaign, with 609 of emails sent directly to Google.
Publication of a position paper, “Facial Recognition and Palestinian Digital Rights”, focusing on Israel's use of facial recognition technology as a part of an unlawful mass surveillance of Palestinians.
7amleh continued our campaigning work with local, regional and international campaigns. These campaigns were designed to both reach the public and decision makers. They included a digital campaign to counter gender based violence online that reached 1,000,000 people, a public statement to the PA against blocking websites, open letters calling on Facebook to stop the spread of hate speech directed towards Palestinians online, open letters to leaders at the G7 Summit about the principles of a healthy digital society among other campaigning activities.
Digital Security Campaign for Palestinian Youth
As a response to the increasing threats and urgent need for digital security education, 7amleh produced digital campaign about digital security. The campaign included a series of animated videos and 10 videos in Arabic for children and youth that cover issues such as two-step verification, passwords, and safe browsing, and provide practical tips and recommendations to increase digital security. This campaign reached around 500,000 users across social media platforms.
Corona & Fake News Campaign
7amleh produced two short videos in Arabic on fake news during the coronavirus. ”How to Verify News in the Times of Corona” explains how to fact check and verify news, in particular during the times of the coronavirus, and ”Digital Safety Tips in the Light of the Coronavirus” details digital security measures that are increasingly important during the times of the coronavirus as fake-news are on the rise. These videos reached more than 250,000 views across social media platforms.
Digital Security Awareness Month
7amleh, together with Innovation for Change MENA launched the webpage AmanRaqmy.org as part of their initiative the ‘Month of Digital Security Awareness’. As part of the campaign digital security materials were published throughout July 2020. The campaign reached more than 300,000 people, with 100,000 engagements.
Digital Advocacy Week #RaiseYourVoice
7amleh trained more 160 people in 6 workshops during the Digital Advocacy Week #RaiseYourVoice. The campaign aimed to improve skills and knowledge on digital advocacy in the region in the Arabic language. In addition to the 160 participants from Palestine and the Arab world, the workshop reached 10,000 engagements on social media platforms.
Regional Campaign - You Are Not Alone
7amleh produced two videos in Arabic on gender-based violence online (GBVO). The video ”While We Have People Around us with Awareness and Respect, There’s still harassers on the Net” is part of an focuses on how “harassment is harassment” whether off or online and ”You Are Not Alone” explores how to deal with the phenomenon of GBVO, including linking to relevant services and organizations. The campaign was featured in an article by Vice Magazine . 7amleh continued to raise awareness on gender-based violence online by participating in the 16-days against Gender-Based Violence campaign from November 25 to December 10, 2020. Throughout the 16-days 7amleh shared graphics and facts on gender-based violence online (GBVO) through its social media channels.
Global Campaign - Stop Censoring the MENA Region
Furthermore, 7amleh joined an open call on Facebook, Youtube and Twitter to stop their censorship of political and dissenting content from the MENA region as well as account removal, and uphold freedom of speech. The arbitrary and non-transparent removal of accounts and content in the MENA region can not be blamed on artificial intelligence errors, and on the contrary appear to be systematic.
7amleh also celebrated and participated in a number of international days and events. For instance, 7amleh participated in the annual #SocialMediaDay on June 30th 2020. This year, 7amleh highlighted how the policies and practices of social media companies continue to violate Palestinian digital rights -- an extension of human rights in the online sphere. Further, on the “International Day of the Right to Access to Information” on September 28th, 7amleh stressed the importance and urgent need for a legal basis of the right to access information for Palestinians under the Palestinian Authority through an online campaign . The Palestinian Authority is yet to adopt an Access to Information Law, which would constitute a pillar in confronting fake news.
7amleh would like to thank all of our partners, board members, volunteers and staff for their continued dedication to Palestinian digital rights and 7amleh’s work in 2020.