Facebook Report Finds Company’s Censorship Violated Human Rights – of Palestinians

Facebook co-founder, Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill April 11, 2018 in Washington, DC. This is the second day of testimony before Congress by Zuckerberg, 33, after it was reported that 87 million Facebook …
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A recent report conducted by Facebook (now known as Meta) found that the company’s censorship practices violated the human rights of Palestinians — but makes no mention of Mark Zuckerberg’s impact on America and the rest of the world.

The Intercept reports that according to a recent study commissioned by Facebook, the company’s speech policies harmed the fundamental human rights of Palestinian users during Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip last May.

Mark Zuckerberg introduces Meta (Facebook)

Demonstrators shout slogans and wave flags as they march during an 'emergency rally to defend Palestine' in Manhattan, New York on June 15, 2021. - Israel carried out air strikes on the Gaza Strip early June 16 after militants in the Palestinian territory sent incendiary balloons into the south of the country, in the first flare-up between the two sides since a major conflict in May in which hundreds were killed. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

Demonstrators shout slogans and wave flags as they march during an ’emergency rally to defend Palestine’ in Manhattan, New York on June 15, 2021.  (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

The report which was obtained by the Intercept ahead of its publication states: “Meta’s actions in May 2021 appear to have had an adverse human rights impact … on the rights of Palestinian users to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, political participation, and non-discrimination, and therefore on the ability of Palestinians to share information and insights about their experiences as they occurred.”

The report was commissioned by Facebook last year and was conducted by the independent consultancy firm Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and focuses on the company’s censorship practices and allegations of bias during military action by Israel last spring.

During military action by Israel in the Gaza Strip, many Palestinians that were attempting to document and protest the violence using Facebook and Instagram found that their posts spontaneously disappeared. BSR attempted to investigate and explain this action.

Last month over a dozen civil society and human rights groups wrote an open letter protesting a delay in the publication of the report, which was set to be released in the “first quarter” of the year. BSR does credit Facebook for attempting to improve its policies but further blames “a lack of oversight at Meta that allowed content policy errors with significant consequences to occur.”

BSR’s report also notes that while Facebook’s actions harmed Palestinian rights, it absolves Facebook of “intentional bias,” instead saying that the company was responsible for “unintentional bias,” and instances “where Meta policy and practice, combined with broader external dynamics, does lead to different human rights impacts on Palestinian and Arabic speaking users.”

BSR’s report stated: “The data reviewed indicated that Arabic content had greater over-enforcement (e.g., erroneously removing Palestinian voice) on a per user basis. Data reviewed by BSR also showed that proactive detection rates of potentially violating Arabic content were significantly higher than proactive detection rates of potentially violating Hebrew content.”

Interestingly, many have accused Facebook of censoring American users in the past but the company has yet to call for an internal investigation of such censorship. In fact, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified before Congress that the company has no bias in the enforcement of its speech policies.

Read more at the Intercept here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan

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