Human rights groups protest Meta’s alleged censorship of pro-Palestinian content

The company has faced previous petitions and external allegations of censorship, including findings from a 2023 audit.

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Meta’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday sparked online protests from human rights groups, calling for an end to what they describe as systemic censorship of pro-Palestinian content on the company’s platforms and within its workforce. Nearly 200 Meta employees have recently urged CEO Mark Zuckerberg to address alleged internal censorship and biases on public platforms, advocating for greater transparency and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

Activists argue that after years of pressing Meta and other platforms for fairer content moderation, shareholders might exert more influence on the company than public pressure alone. Nadim Nashif, founder of the social media watchdog group 7amleh, highlighted that despite a decade of advocacy, the situation has deteriorated, necessitating new strategies like shareholder engagement to spur change.

Recently this month, a public statement from Meta employees followed an internal petition in 2023 with over 450 signatures, whose author faced an investigation by HR for allegedly violating company rules. The latest letter condemns Meta’s actions as creating a ‘hostile and unsafe work environment’ for Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and ‘anti-genocide’ colleagues, with many employees claiming censorship and dismissiveness from leadership.

During the shareholder meeting, Meta focused on its AI projects and managing disinformation, sidestepping the issue of Palestinian content moderation. Despite external audit findings and a letter from US Senator Elizabeth Warren criticising Meta’s handling of pro-Palestinian content, the company did not immediately address the circulating letters and petitions.