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Meta expands hate speech policy to protect ‘Zionists’

Meta expands hate speech policy to protect 'Zionists' The Meta (formerly Facebook) logo marks the entrance of corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on November 9, 2022. (AFP Photo)
By Selin Atay
Jul 10, 2024 2:26 PM

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced Tuesday an expansion of its hate speech policy to remove posts that target “Zionists” in a derogatory manner.

The new policy aims to prevent the term “Zionist” from being used to express antisemitic views toward Jews and Israelis.

‘Zionist’ and/or ‘criminals’

Recognizing the multifaceted historical and modern interpretations of the term, Meta emphasized the importance of distinguishing between legitimate political discussions and harmful rhetoric directed at individuals.

Meta said it is still considering how its policies should address cases where users refer to Zionists as criminals. In some contexts, it said, the use of “Zionists” and “criminals” could be shorthand for actions of the government or military and may represent legitimate speech regarding alleged war crimes.

Political discussion to be allowed

The decision followed consultations with over 145 experts, leading to a move against content that promotes antisemitic stereotypes, incites harm, or denies the existence of Jews or Israelis under the guise of criticizing ‘Zionists.’

Meta stated that while posts making dehumanizing comparisons or calling for harm using the term ‘Zionists’ will be removed, discussions related to the Zionist political movement itself will still be allowed on its platforms.

Meta ‘silences voices in support for Palestine’

However, Meta has faced criticism for its approach to content from the Middle East, with concerns about the suppression of pro-Palestinian content and inconsistencies in enforcing hate speech policies.

The company’s content moderation practices have been scrutinized for lacking transparency and external oversight, particularly following instances where hate speech went undetected in ads and posts, including those inciting violence and genocide against ethnic

In 2023, a Human Rights Watch (HRW) report slammed Meta, the umbrella company that runs social media and messaging titans Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, for “silencing voices in support of Palestine.”

“Meta’s content moderation policies and systems have increasingly silenced voices in support of Palestine on Instagram and Facebook in the wake of the hostilities between Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups,” said the 51-page report, titled Meta’s Broken Promises: Systemic Censorship of Palestine Content on Instagram and Facebook.

Last Updated:  Jul 10, 2024 2:27 PM