A Palestinian news agency has been forced to suspend operations after Facebook deleted its popular social media page over repeated violations.
Maydan Quds News had over 1.2 million followers on Facebook, which fueled traffic to its main website. But in late November, Facebook deleted the account, presumably over the fact that it had regularly featured posts glorifying terrorist violence against Israeli Jews.
Facebook’s action against Maydan Quds came just one day after the terrorist murder of Israeli tour guide Eliyahu Kay. Number posts to the popular Palestinian page in the following hours had praised the terrorist who killed Kay before himself being shot by Israeli security forces, thus making him a “martyr.”
The Palestinian news group tried to keep going, but in early January its director told Al Jazeera that had become impossible without the flow of traffic provided by Facebook.
Maydan Quds still maintains that its coverage of all news in Jerusalem, and specifically the murder of Eli Kay, has always been “completely impartial.”
But as the Committee For Accuracy In Middle East Reporting And Analysis (CAMERA) noted in its analysis of the situation, Maydan Quds had engaged in regular incitement.
Following the late November terror attack, Maydan Quds had uncritically posted numerous local testimonies praising Abu Shkhaydam for killing Kay. A month earlier, it had posted a graphic encouraging the page’s 1.2 million followers that Israel’s destruction was “just around the corner.”
A chorus of Palestinian activists and their supporters around the world decried what they called “censorship” on the part of Facebook. They further suggested that the internet giant was bending to the Jewish state’s will.
In late December, Israel’s government voted to advance the so-called “Facebook Law” that would give it the power to remove social media content by court order. The bill aims to reduce online incitement at a time when major social networks like Facebook and Twitter are being used increasingly to spread fake news and encourage violence.
But Palestinian activists insist it’s all a ploy to “silence” the Palestinian narrative.
And therein lies one of the major stumbling blocks of the Middle East peace process. Even after 20-plus years of negotiations, what Israelis (and most Westerners) call incitement to terrorism, mainstream Palestinian outlets like Maydan Quds call “legitimate news.” The worldviews of the two sides clearly remain entirely diverged.