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Is Facebook Censoring Information on Israel and Palestine?

Facebook made mainstream media headlines last week when it censored a photograph of a breastfeeding mother.  As Facebook has increasingly become a platform for organizing and debate, many are finding their content disappearing.

The Jewish Internet Defense Force (JIDF), which describes itself as a “non-violent protest group who share concerns about antisemitic online content, as well as content which promotes terrorism on sites including Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Google Earth, Blogger, and other sites and forums throughout the internet,” has expressed concern over the censoring of their content on Facebook (despite the fact that they seem to be pro-censorship themselves):

* ….. by clicking on link on Facebook which takes people here, which is a story about the terrorist organization responsible for the attacks in Mumbai being involved on Facebook itself. It was a topic of a conversation in a Facebook group, which originally occurred here: www.facebook.com/topic.php?uid=2204704082&topic=6904 (as you can see in the screencap)

* However, now that conversation is gone! What happened to it, Facebook? This is not the first time we have noticed this phenomenon. Many threads in various pro-Israel and pro-JIDF groups have mysteriously disappeared!

* It seems Facebook is extremely active in censoring content which might be “anti-Facebook” to some extent, yet the Jew hatred and promotion of Islamic terrorism remains.

* We tried to send the following message out to all our JIDF Facebook group members over 5 hours ago and it is either not going to go through, seriously delayed, or Facebook is censoring our content:

While JIDF believes that “Jew hatred and promotion of Islamic terrorism” remains on Facebook, it seems that supporters of Palestine and Gaza are finding their content censored as well. Rebelliousgirl expressed on Twitter that Facebook has prevented her from using hashtags:

Jordanian blogger Jad Madi, who describes himself as simply “Middle Eastern,” changed his name to “Gaza Jad Madi” today after discovering Facebook's alleged biases:

Facebook started to delete anti zionist content, we need to draw the maximum attention to Gaza cause, changing your first name into Gaza should help.

My name now is Gaza Jad Madi

The blog to which Gaza Jad Madi links is Shuger Cuebs, which asks: “Is Facebook Violating Our Right to Free Expression?” The Palestinian blogger writes:

A friend of mine had to go through such an irritating experience with the facebook administration; according to Ibrahim Mughrabi, facebook has deleted content on his personal profile related to the “Zionist attacks on Gaza”. He says he’s been contacted by the administration and warned that he’d be suspended from posting stuff on facebook if he continues to do so!

So much for free speech and equal rights for everyone in this world.

Have you experienced censorship on Facebook? Let us know.

45 comments

  • An Israeli

    A fact often missed is that the Israeli Defense Ministry stubbornly refused to employ or even test technological means to intercept the Kassam rockets fired from Gaza.

    To make a long story short, Israel refused to protect its attacked citizens with a C-RAM system based on the Phalanx canon or a laser canon. Both said to be tested successfully in Iraq for similar aims.

    There were serious public objections to this policy, even a semi-campaign led by the Haaretz newspaper to at least try one of these weapon systems but the MoD stood firm.

  • Get it straight. The JIDF is not pro-censorship. They are for people abiding by ISP rules. There are very clear rules against the promotion of hatred and violence in places like YouTube and Facebook. Trying to have those rules enforced is hardly censorship. Your value judgment and misunderstanding of the JIDF is wrong.

  • This is disgusting but you know what nothing surprises me at all. It’s terrible. Freedom of speech means nothing these days.
    May God watch over the people of Gaza and bring this bloodshed to an end.

  • […] gediscussieerd over zionistisch geweld, moslimfundamentalisme en/of terrorisme in het algemeen. Global Voices ontdekte dat discussies over de situatie in Gaza willekeurig worden gecensureerd. De Jewish Internet Defense […]

  • I can’t see how that previous email is relevant (spambot?)

    to answer Jillian’s question, no I haven’t faced censorship from facebook administration, but the feature of flagging content as abusive or inappropriate is being misused/abused as a community enforced censorship, if a group of people don’t like what someone is publishing all they need is to gather a little number of people and flag that content.. it would be removed immediately then.

    that’s also the case with several other platforms.

  • First of all Peter, if by “ISP rules” you mean government-ordered censorship, then I can’t abide. The Internet is international; what is illegal in Iran or Israel may not be in the US or France (and vice versa).

    Now, YouTube and Facebook are entitled to make their own sets of rules, but if those rules are applied unevenly, I can’t get with that either.

  • […] en estos últimos días, a raíz de la invasión de Gaza por parte de Israel. Artículo original en globalvoicesonline.org/2009/01/05/is-facebook-censoring-information-on/ [en] sin comentarios en: actualidad, política karma: 10 etiquetas: censura, facebook, […]

  • Imran

    a group has been hacked into. the picture and information changed.

    many people have had their accounts disabled by FB over the past week.

    PREVENT A NEW GENOCIDE; SAVE GAZA
    http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=8539161340

  • […] Voices has discussed the issue of censorship on Facebook and YouTube, particularly as it relates to the current Israeli […]

  • By ISP rules, I mean Facebook’s terms of service. There you may find rules against promoting hatred, violence, and the breaking of any international or regional laws. For example, in some countries it is illegal to deny the Holocaust. In other countries, it is illegal to promote Islamic terrorism. On Facebook, there are groups promoting Hezbollah and Hamas. These are recognized as terrorist organizations by the US Govt. Facebook is hosted on American servers. Promoting hatred, violence, and terrorism on Facebook is wrong.

    • Anonymous

      Peter, you used an example about regional law, and then Facebook ToS rules. This brings up a dichotomy, if the US recognizes a terrorist group, but the country the user who started the group from does not – is it still promoting terrorism? I’m pretty sure it all goes by FB and US law, which means “For example, in some countries it is illegal to deny the Holocaust” is irrelevant.

      # You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user.
      # You will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

      Denying the holocaust does neither of these things. Like you mentioned, Facebook is hosted on US soil, and it is not illegal in the US to deny the holocaust. Albeit a stupid thing to do it is not intimidating, hateful (though it can easily lead to that), graphically violent or even promoting of these things.

      The only ToS guideline that it comes close to violating is:
      # You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.

      It’s not discriminatory since holocaust deniers aren’t the ones that perpetrated it, and not misleading because it’s a personal choice (to deny history as it’s been written and widely accepted) or belief.

      Being a nuisance on the internet isn’t going to prevent another holocaust and it’s not going to take back the one that happened. I suggest vesting your time into genocide that is currently happening rather than being a thorn in the side of people that want to express their views online.

      LET IT GO.

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