Palestinian journalists face Facebook censorship

Published 27.09.2016 00:00

At a time of renewed violence, Facebook accounts of editors from two Palestinian news publications based in the occupied West Bank were allegedly suspended last week with no reason was provided. The move came after the agreement between the Israeli government and U.S. social media giant, Facebook which has 1.6 billion users worldwide.

Four editors from the Shehab News Agency and three executives from the Quds News Network reported that they could not access their personal accounts last week, according to Al-Jazeera International.

Facebook apologized on Saturday for disabling Palestinian journalists' accounts claiming that ""The pages were removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate." "Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong. We're very sorry about this mistake," a Facebook spokesperson told The Electronic Intifada.

In a move to protest Facebook censorship, some Palestinian online journalists announced last Friday that they would temporarily halt publishing on Facebook while using the hashtag #FBCensorsPalestine to make their point.

Amid concerns over the potential power of censorship by Facebook, Israel has reportedly jailed a number of Palestinians, including journalists, alleging "incitement" for news or opinions they have posted to Facebook.

The Israeli military says it has indicted more than 145 Palestinians so far this year for incitement over social media. Sunday's announcement comes amid an Israeli campaign to stamp out the online incitement it says has fueled a yearlong campaign of Palestinian attacks. The Palestinians say the violence is a result of nearly 50 years of Israeli military occupation.

Earlier this month, a pair of Israeli ministers met with Facebook executives to discuss ways of limiting calls to violence on the platform. Israel says Facebook should do more to monitor and control content, raising a host of issues over whether the company is responsible for material posted by its users. Israeli lawmakers have proposed legislation that seeks to force social networks to remove content Israel considers to be incitement.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces have detained around 1,000 Palestinian minors since the beginning of 2016, a Palestinian committee said Saturday. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)'s committee on detainees said some of the minors were held under Israel's administrative detention, a policy under which prisoners can be held for up to one year without charge of trial. "Some of these minors were held under administrative detention, while others were sentenced to jail or paid large fine in order to be released," the committee said in a report. The Israeli army frequently carries out sweeping arrest campaigns in the occupied territories that ostensibly target Palestinians who are "wanted" by the Israeli occupation authorities. Over 7,000 Palestinians are currently languishing in prisons located throughout Israel, according to the Palestinian government.

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