Facebook and Instagram have restricted the accounts of dozens of Palestinian journalists and activists after they shared photos and videos of Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a resistance fighter assassinated by Israeli forces.
In a raid on the occupied West Bank city of Nablus on August 9, Israeli forces assassinated al-Nabulsi, who was a fighter and member of the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, along with his fellow Islam Sabbouh and a 16-year-old teen, Hussein Jamal Taha.
Soon afterward, Palestinian journalists and activists took to social media platforms to cover the story and report the suffering inflicted on Palestinians by the Israeli regime, but they were faced with a massive censorship campaign.
Sada Social, an initiative that records and monitors the suspension of Palestinian content and accounts on social media platforms, announced that Meta has mainly targeted activists based in the occupied West Bank and al-Quds.
According to the data provided by the group, within 72 hours following Nabulsi’s death, at least 75 accounts were deleted or restricted on different platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.
Nidaa Bassoumi, the media coordinator at Sada Social, says there has been an agreement in place between the Israeli regime and major social media networks since 2016 over controlling Palestinian content.
Several Palestinian journalists and activists shared screenshots of their accounts showing Facebook and Instagram banned their posts.
Speaking to Middle East Eye, Bassoumi also pointed to double standards imposed by Meta when it comes to censoring content. “It launched an intensive campaign against Palestinian journalists by restricting [social media] posts reporting breaking news from Palestine, but it did not restrict the Israeli forces’ video showing them raiding Nablus and killing Palestinians,” she said.
Meta has been actively restricting posts associated with Palestinian resistance as “violating community standards,” she said, noting that this happened last year when Palestinian prisoners escaped from Israel’s Gilboa prison and now with the assassination of Nabulsi.
Abdalafo Bassam, a Quds-based activist with 436,000 followers on Instagram, is another target of the recent Meta campaign.
“I am one of the victims of the digital massacre by Meta... This is a digital Israeli aggression. While Palestinians on the ground are injured by bullets and shrapnel, we are wounded online by restricting and silencing our voices,” he told MEE.
Instagram removed his post which showed Nabulsi’s mother smiling while holding her son’s body during the funeral procession with a caption that read “A great mother, holding [her son].”
“I did not mention Nabulsi, I mentioned his mother was great, so how did I violate Instagram’s rules?” he asked. Instagram accused Bassam of using the platform to promote “terrorism.”
Back in February, Palestinian journalists filed a lawsuit against Facebook to protest against its arbitrary censorship and suspension of accounts affiliated with Palestine’s news agencies as well as political and media activists.
Anti-Palestinian racism and incitement by Israelis on social media have increased over the past years.
Palestinian activists say there is a double standard regarding the enforcement of social media platforms’ policies.
Sada Social was launched by three Palestinian journalists in September 2017 to document “violations against Palestinian content” on social networks such as Facebook and YouTube and to communicate with its executives to restore some of the pages and accounts that have been shut down.