Following the slight change in tone in American public opinion, following the destruction of the Associated Press newsroom in Gaza, the New York Times this week highlighted what it called “The New Arab Street: Online , global and growing “.
He spoke positively of “voices on social networks”, citing Instagram and Twitter. But it is not that simple.
Qatar’s Al Jazeera first drew attention two weeks ago, reporting that Instagram’s mentions of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Jerusalem, where Palestinians had lost their homes, resulted in the suspension of publications and profiles or less sharing.
The platform replied to the channel that it was a “technical problem” and its managing director, Adam Mosseri, tweeted after the “bug” was fixed.
But the US site BuzzFeed then added that the Facebook and Instagram mentions of the Al Aqsa mosque, the target of violence, were associated with “a terrorist organization” by the platform’s algorithm, leading to the deletion.
Again, the problem was credited with an “error” and would have been corrected.
Almost at the same time, the Canada-U.S. Vice reported that the profile of U.S.-Palestinian journalist Mariam Barghouti, who was covering protests against violence in Sheikh Jarrah and Al Aqsa via Twitter, had been deleted by the platform.
Again, according to a Twitter spokesperson heard on the site, it was “an error” and the cancellation “has been rescinded.”
The series of “bugs” caught the attention of media sites like Columbia Journalism Review and the NYT itself – this in a note online with Facebook’s apologies for what the newspaper called a “misunderstanding”: “We understand. the vital importance of Al Aqsa to Palestinians and the Muslim community around the world ”.
Al Jazeera has also followed the issue and this week heard Marwa Fatafta, a Berlin-based Palestinian writer from Access Now, say that it was not a new problem: “But I had never seen anything of this magnitude. They are actively suppressing it ”.
From the NYT’s “new Arab street” to the accumulation of complaints, everyone is focusing on American social media platforms, but the novelty this time around is that the Chinese have also been involved.
Starting with Zoom, which is based in California and whose founder was naturalized American, but which is still treated by American politicians as a “Chinese entity” and a security risk. An article in Al Jazeera listed instances in which the platform allegedly blocked broadcasts in favor of Palestinians.
More importantly, TikTok, now a larger network than Instagram and the target of increasing pressure for control, was called in for a conversation on the 13th with Israeli Defense Minister General Benny Gantz as the reported among others the Israeli National and American Politico.
Via Zoom, three TikTok executives participated. “Gantz urged them to remove content that incites violence or spreads disinformation and stressed the importance of responding quickly to calls from government cyber offices,” National reported.
Politico heard from the Chinese platform that “is already removing content in the region that violates its policies against violence, hate speech and hate behavior.” Here and there Palestinian tweets confirmed.
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