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Nearly 200 Facebook employees say pro-Palestinian content is being unfairly removed, and demand Mark Zuckerberg launch an internal review

Mark
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Nearly 200 Facebook employees have signed an anonymous letter to company leadership, demanding a review of moderation systems they believe unfairly suppress content supportive of Palestinians, according to the Financial Times, which saw the letter.

Some staff have claimed that pro-Palestinian content was unfairly removed during the recent fighting in Gaza, the bloodiest fighting between Israel and the militant group Hamas that the region has seen in years. Pro-Palestinian activists accused Facebook of censoring their posts during the fighting, and flooded the company’s App Store app with negative reviews.

The letter, which 174 employees signed, called for new measures to ensure pro-Palestinian content was not unfairly suppressed, a commitment to hire more Palestinian workers, and for an internal task force to “investigate and address potential biases” in Facebook’s content moderation, the FT said.

Facebook, Inc. employs more than 55,000 people. The company also owns Instagram and chat app WhatsApp.

“As highlighted by employees, the press and members of Congress, and as reflected in our declining app store rating, our users and community at large feel that we are falling short on our promise to protect open expression around the situation in Palestine,” the letter said, per the FT.

“We believe Facebook can and should do more to understand our users and work on rebuilding their trust.”

The letter also asks for a third-party audit of the company’s handling of Arab and Muslim content, and for Facebook’s independent oversight board to review a post by Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The post labeled Palestinian civilians as terrorists, the Facebook employees said.

Israel and Hamas signed a cease-fire on May 21. During the preceding 10 days, the Israeli bombardment of Gaza killed at least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children and 39 women, according to Reuters, which cited health authorities. Nearly 2,000 people in Gaza, the Hamas-controlled territory that is under an Israeli blockade, were injured, and the UN said about 58,000 were displaced.

Militants in Gaza fired more than 4,300 rockets that killed at least 12 people in Israel, including two children and a soldier.

Facebook-owned Instagram changed its algorithm last week to favor news and viral content following concerns from users that they could not see pro-Palestinian content.

“We know there were several issues that impacted people’s ability to share on our apps,” a Facebook company spokesperson told Insider in an emailed statement. “While we fixed them, they should never have happened in the first place and we’re sorry to anyone who felt they couldn’t bring attention to important events, or who believed this was a deliberate suppression of their voice.

“We design our policies to give everyone a voice while keeping them safe on our apps and we apply them equally, regardless of who is posting or what their personal beliefs are.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

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