Meta reflects on moderating the term “Zionist” on its networks

Meta (Facebook, Instagram) is conducting internal debates on moderation of the term “Zionist” on its platforms, while the conflict in Gaza fuels hate speech, including anti-Semitism, online.

“Given the increasing polarization of public discourse due to events in the Middle East, we believe it is important to evaluate our guidance in reviewing messages that use the term ‘Zionist,'” a spokesperson said Friday. by Meta, requested after an article in Washington Post on this topic.

He recalled that the social media giant “does not allow users to attack other people on the basis of elements constituting their identity, such as their nationality or their religion”, while highlighting the difficulties presented by the term “Zionist”.

It “often refers to a person’s ideology, which is not a protected characteristic,” he notes, but “it can also be used to refer to Jews or Israelis.”

The Californian group is therefore seeking to refine its approach to this qualifier and find compromises.

For now, the rules of its platforms allow the use of the term “Zionist” to criticize an ideology, but prohibit messages containing this word to designate Jews or Israelis and attack them in a dehumanizing or violent manner.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, triggered by an unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israeli soil on October 7, is giving rise to strong positions in Western countries and numerous attacks on social networks.

Associations and researchers have noted a sharp increase in Islamophobic content and anti-Semitic content on the main platforms, notably X, formerly Twitter.

Amnesty International, however, called on Meta not to “ban criticism of “Zionism” or “Zionists” in general”, so as not to “stifle the voices raised against the systematic violations of Palestinian rights by the Israeli government”. .

Such a measure “would constitute a disproportionate and arbitrary restriction on freedom of expression and would lead to the silencing of Palestinian, Jewish and other voices attempting to draw attention to the atrocities committed by Israeli forces in Gaza,” it said. reacted Friday Alia Al Ghussain, researcher on artificial intelligence and human rights, quoted in a press release from Amnesty International.

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