New York City protesters gathered outside the offices of Facebook on Friday, 30 September to demand the global social media corporation cut off its “agreements” with the Israeli government that have seen multiple Palestinian accounts, including major media pages and journalists, shut down.
Hundreds of Palestinians have also been arrested by Israeli occupation forces and accused of “incitement” for posting on Facebook. The “evidence” introduced into military court in order to convict these Palestinians – convictions which occur in over 99% of cases before Israeli military courts – include the number of “likes” and “shares” a post receives. Targets of prosecutions for Facebook posts include journalists Samah Dweik and Sami al-Saee, student activist Donya Musleh, makeup artist Majd Atwan, professor Imad Barghouthi and poet Dareen Tatour.
Most recently, Facebook executives met with Israeli officials, including Ayelet Shaked, announcing “cooperation” against so-called “incitement.” While pledging to crack down on “hate speech,” they made no mention of Shaked’s genocidal comments about Palestinians posted on Facebook that referred to Palestinian children as “little snakes” and urged the execution of their mothers. Instead, Facebook has granted 95 percent of Israel’s 158 requests to remove content in the last four months.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network was joined by NYC Students for Justice in Palestine and other groups for the protest, which included hours of chanting and information distribution targeting Facebook’s discriminatory treatment of Palestinians at the behest of the Israeli government, despite heavy rain.
Speakers highlighted the role of Facebook and other corporations, including G4S, in supporting Israeli occupation and oppression of Palestinians, while also urging action to release imprisoned Palestinians targeted for social media postings, like Barghouthi and Tatour.
Thousands viewed the protest remotely through Facebook live video hosted by Quds News, one of the Palestinian news agencies whose editors were targeted for account deletion. The editors’ accounts were restored after a global outcry, highlighted with the hashtag #FBCensorsPalestine.
[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/QudsN/videos/1276887805721451/” width=”800″ height=”” onlyvideo=”1″]
“We’re here today in solidarity with Palestinians who have been protesting Israel’s new agreement with Facebook, as well as its deletion of Palestinian content, which has been an ongoing problem for years,” said Joe Catron of Samidoun, speaking with independent journalist Gunar Olsen, who wrote about the event and streamed it on Periscope.
Photos by Joe Catron and Sara Flounders