The world’s perceptions of conflict in the Middle East can be scattered from region to region. Some may be enraged at the awful treatment of human lives, whilst others may believe it is the necessary course of action.
Regardless of the varying beliefs, mainstream media is clear on one thing, they will change the narrative to fit their script. It is particularly interesting to see the way in which social media has been censoring specific posts or comments that use certain keywords such as Palestine.
It is not uncommon for mainstream platforms to show bias towards differing causes, but the censorship of posts that mention Palestine is showing a shocking lack of any concern towards human rights and activism.
With social media being one of the only outlets for the people of Palestine to share their narrative and show the oppression and struggles they are facing, you can imagine how deflating it must be when they are not able to use social media as a form of activism. It is also difficult when evidence of violence on social media can be one of the only ways of discovering the truth behind a narrative or story.
Conflict between Israel and Palestine has been ongoing for many years, with mutable forces creating tension and unrest. The 1967 war is notably important for the ongoing conflict today, as it left Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The occupation of Palestine has led to war, destruction and the oppression of many innocent Palestinian people. Social media may be their only way of sharing their side of the story, but with the censorship of Palestine related posts, many people aren’t aware of the conflict.
In 2021 7amleh, which is a non profit organisation for Palestinian digital rights, reported over 500 removals of posts across Instagram and Facebook, which led to many other organisations demanding for transparency and insight into why this is happening.
Ameer Al-Khatahtbeh who runs a magazine called ‘Muslim’ says that over 12,000 posts, livestreams and content being shared in regard to Palestine have been reported as being censored.
One of the common themes running between organisations and people sharing content about the conflict in Palestine is the shock of how brazen and blatant it is. It is almost as if they aren’t trying to hide it, people are just confused and want answers as to why this is happening, and they need the answers from those in charge of these platforms.
Social media companies have come forward and admitted to taking down some posts and blocking certain accounts, but have gone forward to say it is part of a technical difficulty. Instagram apologised for many accounts being unable to share Palestine related content on May 6th 2022 and blamed it on a bug in the system.
Adam Mosseri who is the head of Instagram tweeted;
“Many people thought we were removing their content because of what they posted or what hashtag they used, but this bug wasn’t related to the content itself.”
Many people were not buying this story however, and went ahead to share how enraged they were on social media.
As the Ukraine conflict began a number of celebrities, politicians and organisations shared their thoughts on the conflict, offering prayers to the people suffering in Ukraine and Gigi Hadid, who has been previously known for her support towards Palestine, was amongst them.
In her post she wrote “I am pledging to donate my earnings from the Fall 2022 [fashion week] shows to aid those suffering from the war in Ukraine, as well as continuing to support those experiencing the same in Palestine. Our eyes and hearts must be open to all human injustice. May we all see each other as brothers and sisters, beyond politics, beyond race, beyond religion. At the end of the day, innocent lives pay for war- not leaders. HANDS OFF UKRAINE. HANDS OFF PALESTINE. PEACE. PEACE. PEACE.”
The magazine, Vogue, came under fire for sharing her content but editing out the word ‘Palestine’, which caused a massive uproar on social media. Gigi Hadid also came out to say;
“A refugee crisis is a refugee crisis, this is not anti-anything except anti-human suffering and anti-war. If you believe any person or child, anywhere, born or growing up in the many places where there is a refugee crisis, doesn’t deserve this assistance, you are focused on the wrong part.”
This censorship of words, deleting posts and blocking accounts seems to be a part of a wider issue of selective activism and only sharing content that they feel is necessary.
For those in Palestine, us in the UK and future generations, censorship of posts means that voices are not heard, people are being ignored and this is not something we can stand for. Social media is a form of expression, a place for people to share their thoughts and ideas, and sometimes is the only place a person can share injustice.
By taking this right away from them, they are left with no voice, and in an ever evolving society, how can we stand for this to happen? By using and creating platforms for people’s voices to be heard we are creating an alternative type of media, a voice of the people. We must continue to use our platforms and those available to us to speak on injustice within society.