OPINION – Censorship of Gaza on Social Media

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Recently, social media platforms, including Meta (formerly Facebook), have had a significant impact on public discourse and perceptions of the conflict. Unfortunately, Meta’s handling of disinformation related to Gaza has raised concerns about its impact on truth, objectivity and the potential consequences for the people involved. The social media giant, which already has a bad reputation, has a murky history of failing to protect the information of its users, manipulating elections, spreading disinformation, and verifying false information. Israel’s war in Gaza was a last clear indicator of Meta’s biased attitude, far from objectivity.

The challenge of fighting disinformation

Meta is a major player in the social media landscape, acting as a news source, a storyteller and even a discourse generator and propaganda machine, where vast amounts of content can be shared, including user-generated posts, articles, and videos.

The platform faced a serious test in the context of the Gaza conflict, where it failed to prevent the spread of misinformation, propaganda and biased narratives. Worse, there are concerns that it is deliberately taking sides, spreading misinformation, and hiding the truth in violation of objectivity, freedom of expression and even its own community rules.
Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, includes the most important platforms of the digital age, such as Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Horizon. Zuckerberg is a Jew who openly declares his support for Israel and considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Zuckerberg’s attempt to use the power of social media to impose this view on millions of people is unacceptable.

While users who want to support Israel can do so easily, those who take a pro-Palestinian stance find their accounts banned, censored, or reduced in visibility. Some have even been declared terrorists. This situation has been expressed by many users and organizations that monitor freedom of expression. While Meta made it easy to share fabricated content produced to justify Israel’s brutal attacks, it suppressed the posts of Palestinian supporters under some pretexts, such as community rules or some algorithmic errors.

Selective decency and its impact on public opinion

The interconnected nature of information sharing on social media platforms such as Meta and the interactively growing narrative leads to a cycle of disinformation where misleading content gains traction and serves to create a distorted understanding of conflicts. Contrary to expectations, the almost two-decade-long era of interactive social media platforms seems to have complicated the situation rather than helped access information, freedom of expression, and the functioning of democratic processes.

In its first decade, people used to have fascinating expectations from these platforms, such as easy access to information, citizen journalism, and an environment where everyone can express themselves. At this point, we have to talk about the harmful and destructive effects of social media, from protecting ourselves from misinformation spread through such platforms to preventing interference in elections.

When it comes to conflict zones, disinformation spread through social media can cause misreading of the current situation at the international level, damaging cooperation and solidarity between societies. The ability to find peaceful solutions to conflicts, to exhibit a fair and just attitude, and to distinguish right from wrong is only possible by handling the events correctly. Correct information and truth are essential to achieve this. If Meta and others intend to be platforms that benefit societies, they must be truth-seeking, impartial, transparent, and open to collaboration. For example, since they function as a news source, it is inevitable that they cooperate with news agencies and make efforts to confirm information circulated on the platform.

With the vast budgets they have earned, they can invest in advanced verification mechanisms to quickly detect and label false information to make their verification processes error-free and to take steps to improve their platforms so that they do not turn into disinformation dumps.

By ensuring that the algorithms they use are transparent, they can give users a clearer view of how content is prioritized and amplified. In doing so, they can prevent the spread of misinformation, the entrenchment of prejudice and the self-reinforcing cycle of misunderstanding.

Perception operations are not always successful

Millions of people filling the streets in support of Palestine prove that the perception operations and psychological warfare carried out by social media platforms and many Western media organizations are less effective than thought. In the information age we live in, it is possible for platforms that reach millions of users within hours to lose all their credibility and users in a very short time. At a time when options are so plentiful, it would be naive to think that the current capacity for power and influence is unshakable. The image of a highly controversial and unreliable platform may ensure that today’s giants end up on the dusty shelves of the Internet age, just like many others before them.

Meta, the Facebook of the period, may be perceived to have made a clever image effort by transforming to Meta to correct the bad image that was attached to it due to its previous mistakes. However, Meta may need more than a new name change to clean up the bloodstain this time.
Within Meta’s ecosystem (including Facebook and Instagram), the circle of disinformation regarding Gaza poses a severe challenge to truth, objectivity, and the potential for peace in the region. As a significant influencer in the information world, Meta must proactively address these issues and fulfill its responsibility to build a more informed and empathetic global community. By prioritizing transparency, accuracy, impartiality and truth, Meta can play a constructive role in developing a more fair, consistent, and equitable understanding of complex geopolitical conflicts.

Source : aa