It’s not the first time Facebook would be accused of shadow-banning. Users called the social media platform of doing just that months ago upon showcasing support for months now. Now, Human Rights Watch is calling for an investigation into the platform’s actions, particularly in May as Palestine was under attack.
The organization has released a report trailing the company’s wrongdoings. “Facebook has suppressed content posted by Palestinians and their supporters speaking out about human rights issues in Israel and Palestine,” said Deborah Brown, senior digital rights researcher and advocate at Human Rights Watch. “With the space for such advocacy under threat in many parts of the world, Facebook censorship threatens to restrict a critical platform for learning and engaging on these issues.”
Human Rights Watch is claiming to have documented the social media platform remove posts on Instagram that showcased pro-Palestinian conflict, including those by mainstream news organizations, like the New York Times.
The posts were removed for ‘containing hate speech or symbols’ according to Instagram. Documented examples show otherwise. “This is a photo of my family’s building before it was struck by Israeli missiles on Saturday May 15, 2021” read the caption of a photo that showcased a building—which was ultimately removed by Instagram.
The deleted posts came at a time when users also reported having their accounts restricted, a reduction in their engagement and visibility as well as a slew of blocked hashtags they could no longer access.
For that reason, Human Rights Watch is calling on Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, to commission an independent investigation into what occurred and for the report to be published.