Meta’s Moderation Bias Problem Suppressing Palestinian Voices


Meta, the parent company of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, is facing accusations of bias and censorship against Palestinian users. Many social media users, including Palestinian-American filmmaker Khitam Jabr, have reported their content being restricted or removed, and their accounts being flagged or shadowbanned after posting about Palestine.

Key Takeaway

Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, is facing allegations of bias and censorship against Palestinian users. Social media users have reported content restrictions, shadowbanning, and account flagging after posting about Palestine. Advocacy groups have criticized Meta’s moderation practices and partnerships with government agencies. Despite promises to address these issues, progress has been slow, and Palestinian voices continue to be suppressed on the platform.

Moderation Biases and Inconsistencies

Meta’s moderation practices often disproportionately affect Palestinian users, reflecting an inherent bias against them. The company struggles to navigate Arabic, a language with over 25 dialects, and has been criticized for inadequately diversifying its language resources. This leads to black-and-white policies that make it difficult to effectively moderate nuanced topics, such as discussions of violence without condoning it.

Advocacy groups have also raised concerns about Meta’s partnerships with government agencies, such as the Israeli Cyber Unit, which they believe politically influence the platform’s policy decisions.

Shadowbanning and Content Suppression

Instagram users accuse Meta of shadowbanning content related to Palestine, even if it doesn’t support Hamas. They claim that their Stories and posts about Palestine receive significantly fewer views compared to unrelated content. Some users have resorted to posting random or unrelated content to increase visibility.

Furthermore, Meta has been inconsistently enforcing its Community Guidelines, flagging and removing content about Palestine, even from news outlets. Arabic content is often subject to stricter moderation compared to Hebrew and English content, raising concerns about bias and discrimination.

Policies and Responses

Meta has blamed technical errors and bugs for the removal and restriction of posts about Palestine during the 2021 conflict. The company has committed to implementing policy changes based on a third-party due diligence report, but progress has been slow.

Despite improvements in responding to harassment, particularly in suspending accounts targeting other users, there is still a lack of cultural competence within Meta. Mistranslations of Arabic content, such as the recent offensive translations of the phrase “Alhamdulillah,” have sparked outrage and fuel Islamophobic rhetoric.

Continued Struggle for Palestinian Voices

As the conflict between Hamas and Israel continues, social media users are finding ways to circumvent the alleged shadowbanning, such as misspelling certain words and using unrelated images for information sharing. However, Palestinian users continue to express frustration with Meta’s treatment and are demanding equal rights and respect from the platform.

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