“Defending and respecting the voices of the people who use Twitter is one of our core values,” a Twitter spokeswoman responded, saying they take Tlaib’s concerns “seriously.”
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Palestinian-American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) announced Wednesday that she has written to executives at Facebook, TikTok and Twitter to raise concerns about the social media platforms “silencing” Palestinian voices.
Sharing the letter via her Twitter account, Tlaib said she’d been made aware of complaints about the platforms “censoring content and disabling user accounts that…[are] raising awareness about recent Israeli state-backed violence on the Palestinian people.”
She did not cite any real-world examples or evidence to back up this claim.
“With reporting in the mainstream media often ignoring and silencing Palestinian voices, social
media has become a crucial source” of information for both Palestinians and the world at large, Tlaib wrote.
Social media has been one of the only places for us to get first-hand accounts from Palestinians about the occupation & violence they face. That’s why I’m writing to urge @Facebook, @instagram, @Twitter & @tiktok_us to cease censorship and ensure Palestinian voices are heard. pic.twitter.com/ltamvE1uKk
— Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (@RepRashida) May 25, 2021
She touched on the events of this month, alleging that “Israeli police and military forces assaulted Palestinian worshippers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque” and subsequently “engaged in a disproportionate escalation that killed hundreds of civilians, including children.”
In light of these events, social media is a critical tool for “documenting the injustices that Palestinians face,” she wrote.
Accusing social media platforms of selective censorship, Tlaib wrote that while “Palestinian perspectives are censored and restricted, extremist Israeli groups openly use Facebook-owned WhatsApp to coordinate violent mob attacks on Palestinians.”
She said that “Israel and other governments had pressured” social media platforms into accepting a definition of anti-Semitism that equates anti-Zionism with hatred of Jews, and suggested that such a policy, while not officially adopted by the platforms, is used to silence Palestinians and other critics of Israel.
According to Tlaib, social media executives should detail how their companies are “ensuring that Palestinian voices are being heard in your decision-making process.”
She asked if they had been contacted by any governments about “posts and accounts regarding Palestine this month.”
Twitter spokeswoman Elizabeth Busby said in a statement that “defending and respecting the voices of the people who use Twitter is one of our core values,” adding that they took the concerns raised by Tlaib “seriously, and work to be transparent in how we enforce our rules.”
Andy Stone, a Facebook spokesman, responded that due to “technical issues,” posts and stories about Al-Aqsa mosque had been temporarily unavailable. Stone chalked this up to a “glitch” rather than an intentional decision by the social media giant.
“While these [errors] have been fixed, they should never have happened in the first place,” Stone said in a statement.
“We’re so sorry to everyone who felt they couldn’t bring attention to important events, or who felt this was a deliberate suppression of their voice. This was never our intention – nor do we ever want to silence a particular community or point of view.”