Twitter and Facebook Admit They Block Palestinians’ Posts: It Happened By Mistake

Twitter and Facebook were accused of blocking the posts of thousands of users during the ongoing tension between Palestine and Israel in the past weeks. Both companies acknowledged the situation but said it was ‘accidentally’.
In the past weeks, hundreds of people lost their lives in the tension between Israel and Palestine, and the issue remained on the agenda for a long time with the reactions it gathered on social media. Even though the waters have calmed down in the last few days with the ceasefire signed, a critical claim on the subject caused the effects of the event to continue on social media.

According to this claim, Facebook and Twitter removed the posts of many Palestinian activists and citizens from the platform during the events and suspended their accounts. Thereupon, Palestinian social media users launched a big campaign and drew attention to the issue by lowering Facebook’s AppStore and Play Store scores. Even then, Facebook asked Apple to remove the negative comments from the AppStore with this campaign, but Apple did not accept this. After all these developments, Twitter and Facebook accepted that the allegations were true and made a statement on the subject.

In its statement on the subject, Twitter said that it mistakenly identified consecutive tweets during the conflict as spam, causing hundreds of accounts to be temporarily locked as a result and tweets not appearing when searched.

He attributed the situation on Facebook to an error caused by artificial intelligence. Accordingly, while the company’s artificial intelligence, which prevents hate speech, detects and blocks some expressions incorrectly, a software error also occurred that caused video sharing on Instagram to be blocked. This caused thousands of people who wanted to share videos of the attacks in Palestine were unable to do so.

Both companies say that the bugs have been fixed and the accounts that have been closed are reactivated, but many people say that the posts are still blocked. Facebook and Twitter, in particular, are frequently criticized for some censorship practices that hinder freedom of expression and the right to receive news when it comes to political events.

Accidentally or not, the artificial intelligence that companies develop to eradicate hate speech and violence is obviously not advanced enough yet and has difficulty distinguishing. In order not to come up with similar events and turn the arrows of criticism to themselves and to offer equal right to speak for everyone, serious studies should be done on this issue.