Meta accused of 'systemically' censoring pro-Palestinian content

Occurred: October-December 2023

Meta stands accused of rountinely engaging in 'six key patterns of undue censorship' of content supporting Palestine during Israel's war with Hamas.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) analysed over one thousand instances of online censorship from more than 60 countries, identifying six common patterns of censorship: content removals, suspension or deletion of accounts, inability to engage with content, inability to engage with content, inability to follow or tag accounts, restriction on the use of features such as Instagram and Facebook Live, and shadow-banning. 

According to HRW, the removal of peaceful expressions of support for Gazans is the result of 'flawed Meta policies and their inconsistent and erroneous implementation, overreliance on automated tools to moderate content, and undue government influence over content removals'. 

Meta responded by saying: 'This report ignores the realities of enforcing our policies globally during a fast-moving, highly polarised and intense conflict, which has led to an increase in content being reported to us.'

Operator: Human Rights Watch
Developer: Meta/Facebook; Meta/Instagram
Country: Palestine; Israel   
Sector: Politics
Purpose: Moderate content
Technology: Content moderation system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/discrimination - race, ethnicity; Freedom of expression - censorship
Transparency: Governance

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