Facebook Employee Petition Calls on Company to Address Palestinian Censorship Claims

Facebook Employee Petition Calls on Company to Address
Palestinian Censorship Claims 1

Employees at social media giant Facebook are now circulating an internal petition calling for the company to address allegations of censorship of pro-Palestinian content.

The Verge reports that Facebook employees have begun circulating an internal petition calling on the tech giant to investigate content moderation systems that led many Palestinians and their supporters to believe they were being censored on the platform.

Breitbart News previously reported:

Earlier this month a Facebook software engineer from Egypt wrote an open note to his colleagues warning: “Facebook is losing trust among Arab users.” Facebook has previously been championed as a useful tool for sharing information in Arab countries where government censorship amidst protests was common, the software engineer specifically pointed to the Arab Spring of 2011 as an example of this.

But the engineer alleges that during the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, censorship has made Arab and Muslim users skeptical of the platform. As proof of this, the engineer included screenshots from Gaza Now, a verified news outlet with almost 4 million followers, which when liked on Facebook displays a “discouraging” pop-up stating “You may want to review غزة الآن – Gaza Now to see the types of content it usually shares.”

The engineer stated: “I made an experiment and tried liking as many Israeli news pages as possible, and ‘not a single time’ have I received a similar message,” suggesting that Facebook’s systems are prejudiced against Arabic content. “Are all of these incidents resulted from a model bias?” the engineer asked.

Now, Facebook employees are taking action on the issue. “As highlighted by employees, the press, and members of Congress, and as reflected in our declining app store rating, our users and community at large feel that we are falling short on our promise to protect open expression around the situation in Palestine,” they wrote in the petition. “We believe Facebook can and should do more to understand our users and work on rebuilding their trust.”

The letter was posted on an internal forum by employees in a group called “[email protected]” and “[email protected]” It reportedly has hundreds of signatures at the time of reporting. Employees are asking Facebook to do a third-party audit of content moderations decisions surrounding Arab and Muslim content.

They also want a post by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which employees claim he referred to Palestinian civilians as terrorists, to be reviewed by Facebook’s independent oversight board.

Read more at the Verge here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address [email protected]

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