Instagram users have alleged that the platform is shadowbanning their content as the Israel-Palestine conflict intensifies. The conflict saw a surge in violence after a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7.
During this 11-day period, thousands of Palestinians, including over 1,000 children, have tragically lost their lives in Israeli airstrikes. In response, Israel has announced plans to accelerate a ground offensive.
Shadowbanning, which limits the visibility of posts without the user’s knowledge, raised concerns among users who found their content wasn’t appearing on followers’ main feeds.
Pakistani writer Fatima Bhutto, a vocal supporter of Palestinian rights, reported her comments being restricted and her posts not showing in followers’ feeds. Others also noted reduced engagement on posts related to the conflict.
The issue of shadowbanning extends beyond influential figures, affecting accounts with various levels of following. Many believe that the responsibility to address this issue falls on platforms like Instagram and that they should take a more balanced approach in upholding freedom of expression while ensuring user safety.
Usama Khilji, director of Bolo Bhi, an advocacy forum for digital rights, criticized social media platforms for their role in silencing voices against apartheid and genocide, asserting that they are on the wrong side of history. Pakistani celebrities like Mahira Khan have claimed that her account has been shadowbanned. Meanwhile, famous YouTuber Rana Hamza Asif in his explained how people can raise voice for Palestine without getting banned on Instagram.
When contacted for comment, Meta emphasized that its policies are designed to keep people safe on its platforms while giving everyone a voice. The company denied deliberately suppressing voices and stated that content containing praise for Hamas or violent and graphic content is not allowed on their platforms. They also mentioned that an appeals process is available for users who believe Meta has made the wrong decision.
The issue highlights the challenge of balancing freedom of expression and content moderation during conflicts on social media platforms.