Facebook's "Accidental Mistake" and Free Speech in the Arab World
Many Palestinian journalists, and those in the Middle East, are forced to use Facebook to publish what their own media will not accept. But the problem becomes worse when Facebook itself starts removing material that bothers dictatorships and tyrants. One can only hope that the same Facebook employee who "accidentally" removed the article will make the same mistake and and close down the accounts belonging to terrorist organizations and their leaders. It is the duty of Facebook and Western societies to side with those seeking freedom, and not to be complicit in suppressing their voices.
"All censorships exist to prevent anyone from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently, the first condition of progress is the removal of censorship." — George Bernard Shaw
Twenty-four hours later, Facebook issued a "sincere apology" and said that a member of its team had "accidentally removed something you posted on Facebook. This was a mistake."
Although Facebook did not say which "problematic" item had prompted it to take such a drastic measure, apparently it was referring to an article that had been published by Gatestone Institute: The Palestinian Authority's Inconvenient Truths.
Facebook's move came at a time when Arab dictatorships in general, and the Palestinian Authority in particular, have been cracking down on Facebook users.
During the past year alone, a number of Palestinian journalists and bloggers were arrested by Western-funded Palestinian Authority security services in the West Bank for criticizing the PA leadership on their Facebook pages.
Among those detained was Esmat Abdel Khaleq, a university lecturer in journalism. She was held in detention for two weeks for posting comments on her Facebook page that allegedly insult Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Many Palestinian journalists, and those in the Middle East, are forced to use Facebook to publish what their own media will not accept. The media in the West Bank is mostly controlled by the Palestinian Authority, which has repeatedly demonstrated a large degree of intolerance toward any form of criticism. The same applies, of course, to most Arab dictatorships.
Arab governments have obviously become wary of the use their critics are making of Facebook to air their grievances and opinions. In some countries, including the Palestinian Authority, intelligence services have set up special teams to monitor Facebook and other social media networks in search of critics and "dissidents."
But the problem becomes worse when Facebook itself starts removing material that bothers dictatorships and tyrants.
One can only hope that the same Facebook employee who "accidentally" removed the article will make the same mistake and close down accounts belonging to terrorist organizations and their leaders.
Take for example, the account of senior Hamas official Izzat al Risheq, or the numerous accounts that promote hatred and violence and are openly affiliated with terrorist and jihadi groups.
All one has to do is log in to these accounts, especially the ones in Arabic, to see how most of them are engaged in all forms of incitement.
Those behind these pages are not seeking to achieve progress by "challenging current conceptions," as George Bernard Shaw noted. Instead they are using Facebook, among others, to spread messages of hate and abuse against anyone who does not share their views.
Many Arab and Palestinian journalists and intellectuals have long been waging a fierce campaign to get rid of censorship in their countries. Some have even paid with their lives to achieve this goal, while many others have been arrested or are facing intimidation and terror. It is the duty of Facebook and Western societies to side with those seeking freedom, and not to be complicit in suppressing their voices.
Reader comments on this item
|Double standard much? [32 words]||1389AD||Jan 25, 2013 23:54|
|Facebook's complicity with terrorists [58 words]||E. Lindberg||Jan 22, 2013 12:21|
|Khaled Abu Toameh, a man of outstanding integrity and bravery [68 words]||Batya Casper||Jan 18, 2013 15:22|
|↔ Same thing happened to a Danish Islam critic politician [90 words]||Michael Hammers||Jan 22, 2013 01:23|
|↔ Facebook's censorship [15 words]||Batya Casper||Jan 23, 2013 12:40|
|Facebook has deactivated my account twice [50 words]||Mudar Zahran||Jan 18, 2013 10:56|
|↔ But this is different [66 words]||Muneer Hijazi - Amman, Jordan||Jan 20, 2013 10:11|
Comment on this item
by Khaled Abu Toameh
To understand what drives a young Palestinian to carry out such a deadly attack, one needs to look at the statements of Palestinian Authority leaders during the past few weeks.
The anti-Israel campaign of incitement reached its peak with Abbas's speech at the UN a few weeks ago, when he accused Israel of waging a "war of genocide" in the Gaza Strip. Abbas made no reference to Hamas's crimes against both Israelis and Palestinians.
Whatever his motives, it is clear that the man who carried out the most recent attack, was influenced by the messages that Abbas and the Palestinian Authority leadership have been sending their people.
by Richard Kemp
Would General Allen -- or any other general today -- recommend contracting out his country's defenses if it were his country at stake? Of course not.
The Iranian regime remains dedicated to undermining and ultimately destroying the State of Israel. The Islamic State also has Israel in its sights and would certainly use the West Bank as a point from which to attack, if it were open to them.
There can be no two-state solution and no sovereign Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan, however desirable those things might be. The stark military reality is that Israel cannot withdraw its forces from the West Bank.
Fatah leaders ally themselves with the terrorists of Hamas, and, like Hamas, they continue to reject the every existence of the State of Israel.
If Western leaders actually want to help, they should use all diplomatic and economic means to make it clear to the Palestinians that they will never achieve an independent and sovereign state while they remain set on the destruction of the State of Israel.
by Louis René Beres
The Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO], forerunner of today's Palestinian Authority, was founded in 1964, three years before Israel came into the unintended control of the West Bank and Gaza. What therefore was the PLO planning to "liberate"?
Why does no one expect the Palestinians to cease all deliberate and random violence against Israeli civilians before being considered for admission to statehood?
On June 30, 1922, a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress of the United States endorsed a "Mandate for Palestine," confirming the right of Jews to settle anywhere they chose between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. This is the core American legacy of support for a Jewish State that President Obama now somehow fails to recall.
A sovereign state of Palestine, as identified by the Arabs -- a Muslim land occupied by "Palestinian" Arabs -- has never existed; not before 1948, and not before 1967. From the start, it was, and continues to be, the Arab states -- not Israel -- that became the core impediment to Palestinian sovereignty.
by Timon Dias
It looks as if this new law is meant to serve as a severe roadblock to parties that would like to dismantle the EU in a democratic and peaceful way from within.
A rather dull semantic trick pro-EU figures usually apply, is calling their opponents "anti-Europe."
by Alan M. Dershowitz