#SavePalestinianVoices: Tech Companies Must Stop Silencing Palestinian Content

#SavePalestinianVoices: Tech Companies Must Stop Silencing Palestinian Content

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Why this petition matters

Started by SMEX

Petition to #SavePalestinianVoices
Tech Companies Must Stop Silencing Palestinian Content

This past week we have witnessed escalations in Israeli police brutality against Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem. Families in the neighborhood now face the imminent threat of being expelled from their homes, while being violently attacked by the Israeli police and Israeli Jewish settlers. Violence spread across the Old City as Israeli forces besieged and raided Al-Aqsa mosque with sound bombs, tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets, injuring over 300 worshippers and protestors.

People inside and outside Palestine circulated information documenting and denouncing Israel’s war crimes and human rights violations on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram. #SaveSheikhJarrah is getting international attention. Soon enough, we started receiving countless reports of censorship against Palestinian content on these platforms.

Improbable mistakes

In 48 hours, Facebook reported two “technical issues” that targeted the same group: Palestinians. These two “errors” compromised Jerusalemites’ right to freedom of expression as they tried to make their voices heard globally and sabotaged worldwide coverage of Israeli violence in Al-Aqsa and Sheikh Jarrah.

It is difficult not to see how these series of technical errors, with their incredibly critical timing and already silenced targets, were actually based on attempts to hide and silence Palestinian voices on social media platforms. We refuse to accept these false excuses as valid explanations for limiting and removing Palestinian content.

We demand Facebook and Twitter to immediately stop censoring Palestinian content, reinstate affected posts and accounts, and provide a clear and public explanation for the reasons why the content was removed.

We urgently call on Facebook and Twitter to:

  • Immediately open an investigation into those cases, as well as to transparently and publicly share the reasons behind the decisions to take down accounts and posts related to Sheikh Jarrah and the actions taken by Facebook and Twitter to address these violations;
  • Immediately reinstate all accounts and content currently taken offline in breach of international standards on freedom of expression;
  • Provide transparency on the decision-making processes involved in content takedowns related to Palestine. Companies must indicate exactly which term in the Community Standards/Policy was violated in each case of censored content.
  • Cease automatic and AI moderation targeting Palestinian content until it is reviewed by human moderators, considering the critical events in Jerusalem and Gaza.
  • Publicly commit to resist government and court orders in breach of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, particularly Article 43 of the Hague Regulations which imposes obligations on Israel, as the occupying power, to be “respecting unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country”.
  • Publish detailed data on requests submitted by the Israeli Cyber Unit, including numbers of complaints received, content removal, account suspensions and other content restrictions, together with details on the category of content that was removed and/or reinstated as a consequence thereof.
  • Commit to the baseline principles set forth in the Santa Clara Principles on Transparency and Accountability in Content Moderation.
  • Hold Facebook accountable against its Corporate Human Rights Policy, launched in March 2021, whereby it announced its commitment to the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights.

#SavePalestinianVoices online, sign the petition now!

This petition is in collaboration with:
Samir Kassir Foundation
Masaar Team Community
Lebanese Center for Human Rights

6,833 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!