Iyad al-Rifai, the spokesperson for ‘Facebook Censors Palestine’ campaign, called for intensifying the public and official efforts to face the Facebook policy of censoring Palestinian content.
Rifai stressed that Facebook’s suspension or closure of any pro-Palestinian pages was not due to breaching any of its policies, but rather as a consequence of the agreement Facebook had reached with Israel to block Palestinian content under the pretext of incitement.
He cited the Israeli Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked’s statements that Facebook complied with 95% of Israel’s requests to delete Palestinian content.
Rifai said that #FBCensorsPalestine campaign has been launched to reject the Facebook policy of blocking Palestinian content. The campaign was launched on 30 September, 2016, and received enormous interaction from social media users that reached 300 million participants, he added. On the following Sunday, a call was announced to refrain from posting on Facebook for two hours.
Effectiveness of the campaign
Rifai stated that Facebook executives have contacted those in charge of the campaign and apologized for the closure of some news accounts, in addition to the large media coverage and electronic interaction.
He insisted on keeping the campaign up until the Facebook secret agreement with Israel is dismissed, or at least revealed to the public.
There will also be further steps to confront the new policy in the next few days, he went on.
According to Rifai, Facebook policies are a reflection of the Israeli practices that include prosecution and detention of activists and sentencing them over social media posts and comments. This is an attempt to obliterate the Palestinian side of the story.
Demanding official participation
“We need the Palestinian official institutions to contact the international institutions,” said Rifai. And he called upon the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate to reach out to the International Federation of Journalists, as a large number of the Palestinian journalists have been blocked from using Facebook.
He added, “If the ministry of communications would contact Facebook executives and threaten to block Facebook from Palestinian territories, it would put more intense pressure on Facebook.”
He concluded, “Unfortunately, the Israeli users have managed to widely ‘report’ Palestinian pages on Facebook for exposing Israeli crimes, while millions of Arab users have failed to ‘report’ a single Israeli page that incites hate.”