ADC Statement on Social Media Censoring and Suppression

ADC Statement on Social Media Censoring and Suppression

Washington, DC | | January 8, 2024 – Over the past few weeks ADC has been closely monitoring the increased censorship and suppression of Palestinian, Arab and Pro-Palestinian voices by social media and tech companies. Since December 30th, we have received over 1,100 reports from users facing issues with censorship, with a majority of the complaints against Instagram which is owned by Meta. ADC is also receiving complaints about censorship/suppression on X (formerly known as Twitter), TikTok, and LinkedIn. Many of the complaints are from individuals who have been deplatformed and permanently banned from their accounts. 

There is no doubt that there is a concerted effort to silence and punish anyone posting against the ongoing genocide of Palestinians. ADC legal will continue to gather intakes and respond to everyone who has reached out with an issue, and to ensure that any appropriate action is taken on their behalf. If you have submitted an intake please note that your matter has been recorded and we will follow up. In order to streamline the intake process, ADC has created a dedicated form that you can access by clicking HERE.

Censorship of user accounts can happen in many ways, including limiting features a user can access. An example of this is not being able to comment on posts, or follow new people. Users with larger accounts are being prevented by Meta from collaborating with each other, using the live feature, and are also having their accounts demonetized. ADC is in communication with Palestinian journalists who have seen a significant decrease in the reach of their posts – a form of suppression intended to minimize the reach of voices from within Gaza. 

The rules and regulations being used by these platforms to censor are vague and not clear. The use of Meta’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations (DIO) policy has been widely used by the platform to issue millions of violations which often leads to suspension and banning from their platforms. To complicate the matter Instagram and Meta both have different versions of the DIO policy. ADC is working directly with a number of users who have been deplatformed because of this policy.

Through our initial review of the intakes received it is clear that the automated mechanisms in place by these social media companies are open to abuse. Bots are often responsible for flagging thousands of posts at a time, feeding into the biases that can be found within the artificial intelligence (AI) systems used by the companies. Further, there is no indication that human reviewers are given explicit bias training, or have an understanding themselves of the rules and procedures they are instructed to follow. 

Our initial review has also shown that many users are not familiar with their rights/options to file an appeal or challenge to any violations. At Meta this is largely due to the fact that many users are not notified when they are flagged for a violation, which runs against the company’s community guidelines and regulations. 

ADC National Executive Director Abed Ayoub said, “The scale of this censorship is unprecedented, and should be a serious concern for everyone who believes in freedom of speech, expression, and supporting human rights. We will explore all possible avenues to address this issue, and will not back down to big tech.”

If you have experienced an issue with your social media account, please fill out this intake form.

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