Instagram faces backlash over alleged censorship of posts supporting Palestine

Meta, Instagram’s parent company, denies intent but attributes the content reach reduction to high reports and algorithmic glitches.

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Instagram users are accusing the platform of deliberately censoring posts supporting Palestine amid the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Users, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Azmat Khan, reported reduced content visibility, lack of name searchability, and inability to interact with posts. 7amleh, the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, suspects this censorship to involve shadow banning, which demotes content related to the conflict in the platform’s algorithm.

Meta, Instagram’s parent company, denies any intention to suppress a particular community or point of view. They attribute the reduction in content reach to a higher volume of reported content related to the conflict and glitches in their algorithmic moderation system. Users fear censorship and shadow banning during crises have real-world implications and contribute to divisiveness and misinformation.

Why does it matter?

Concerns about Meta’s alleged censorship are not new. Similar issues were reported during previous escalations in Palestine, prompting more than 200 Meta employees to demand the company address these shortcomings. An independent analysis commissioned by Meta confirmed that these actions violated Palestinian human rights.

Meta faced additional criticism this week when a translation glitch on the platform misrepresented ‘Palestinian’ followed by ‘Praise be to Allah’ as ‘Palestinian terrorists,’ leading to significant internal and external backlash, according to a former employee with access to internal discussions. This raises concerns among experts that people won’t truly understand what’s happening, as there’s no regulation to make platforms accountable for their actions.