Facebook pulls plug on Hamas-affiliated news service

Shehab was cut off from its 7.5 million Facebook followers for praising violence.

By World Israel News Staff

Facebook blocked the account of the Shehab News Agency, the Hamas-affiliated news service, on Tuesday, saying it had violated the social media giant’s terms of service.

Shehab’s account was followed by around 7.5 million people.

“Despite recent outreach to its administrators regarding our policies, we have had to disable the Shehab News Agency Facebook page for repeatedly violating our community standards,” a Facebook spokesperson told i24 News.

“We have previously explained to the Shehab News team that, in order to keep our community safe and prevent harm, we do not allow praise or support for groups, leaders or individuals who have engaged in violence.”

The Palestinian Journalist Bloc denounced Facebook, calling the move “unjust” and “an attack on freedom of expression.”

Salama Marouf, chairman of Hamas’s government media office in Gaza, accused the social media platform of bias against the Palestinians.

“It has become clear to everyone that the Facebook administration intends to fight Palestinian content by restricting and banning it on the pretext of violating standards while turning a blind eye to what the (Israeli) pages publish, which are full of incitement to murder, spreading racism and incitement to hatred,” said Marouf.

Meanwhile, Shehab’s own website was also unavailable. Visitors were told it was down for temporary maintenance. It wasn’t clear if the problem was related in anyway.

Facebook has blocked Shehab before, most recently in 2015 for “featuring graphic violence.”

Shehab also has 523,000 followers on Twitter.