Facebook Deletes Al Jazeera Journo’s Profile Over Palestinian Content Censorship
Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms deleted Al Jazeera Arabic presenter Tamer Almisshal’s profile 24 hours after the programme Tip of the Iceberg aired an investigation into the Mark Zuckerberg-co-owned-founded company’s censorship of Palestinian content titled ‘The Locked Space’.
“… without prior warning, Facebook quickly deleted my verified personal account through which I interact!!!! With God’s grace, and then with your support, we will remain and move on…,” Almisshal tweeted on Sunday.
بعد ٢٤ ساعة فقط على تحقيق ما خفي أعظم الأخير #الفضاء_المغلق ودون سابق انذار سارعت فيسبوك بحذف حسابي الشخصي الموثق والذي أتفاعل عبره !!!! .. بتوفيق الله ومن ثم بدعمكم سنبقى ونمضي .. و #ما_خفي_أعظم .. مرفق رابط التحقيق https://t.co/QX3HO7vwEb pic.twitter.com/38eZM36xEB
— Tamer Almisshal | تامر المسحال (@TamerMisshal) September 10, 2023
Almisshal said that the profile that was deleted is his personal page, set up by him in 2006 and verified. He had, at least, 700,000 followers.
“After the huge success of the episode, I discovered that my personal Facebook profile had been deleted with no explanations given,” he told Al Jazeera. “It really does seem like some kind of revenge for the programme. We haven’t received any response from Facebook yet.”
“There was no explanation, no warning,” Almisshal said. “There had been no issues with any of the content on my page before—no message saying I had violated any rules.”
When Al Jazeera asked Facebook about deleting Almisshal’s profile without warning or explanation, the company didn’t respond.
According to Al Jazeera, the investigation, which aired on Friday, included admissions by the former head of Israel’s cybersecurity apparatus, Eric Barbing, about his organisation’s effort to track Palestinian content according to criteria that included “liking” a photo of a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces.
“Then the agency would approach Facebook and argue that the content should be taken down, According to Barbing, Facebook usually complies with the requests and Israel’s security apparatus follows up cases, including bringing court cases if need be,” Al Jazeera reported.
Following Barbing’s admission, the news organisation interviewed several human and digital rights experts who agreed that there is a distinct imbalance in how Palestinian content is restricted.
Julie Owono, a member of Facebook’s oversight board, admitted there is a “discrepancy in how rules are interpreted and applied to Palestinian content and added that recommendations had been sent to Facebook to correct this”, the report read.
The programme’s team wanted to probe the gap between Facebook’s treatment of Palestinian and Israeli posts.
The journalists built two different pages—one with a pro-Palestinian perspective and the other a pro-Israeli one. After running trials on the pages, they concluded there was a big “discrepancy in how much scrutiny there is and how rules are applied to posts on either page”.
Almisshal told Al Jazeera that Facebook had “restricted” his account last March and “it has happened other times, but usually the situation is resolved”.
“This was a journalistically sound project, and we communicated with Meta for it, giving them the opportunity to speak during the investigation. But to target a journalist individually instead—I would never have expected that.”
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