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Monday, May 27, 2024

Meta bans pro-Hamas content

The social media giant responded after pressure from senior EU officials

Meta has said it removed hundreds of thousands of “disturbing” posts related to the Israel-Hamas war, in addition to other steps to cut down on hateful or misleading content on its platforms.

The company announced the move on Friday, saying it had culled more than 795,000 pieces of content in Hebrew and Arabic over the last three days alone, or seven times the usual rate. Many of the posts violated Meta’s ‘Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy’, namely for support or glorification of Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that launched a deadly assault on Israel last weekend.

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“Hamas is banned from our platforms, and we remove praise and substantive support of them when we become aware of it, while continuing to allow social and political discourse – such as news reporting, human rights related issues, or academic, neutral and condemning discussion,” the platform explained.

Posts containing violent or graphic images, hate speech, “incitement,” or coordinated harm were also pulled from Meta’s sites, as well as any content that “clearly identifies” Israeli hostages still held in Gaza. Some hashtags were shut down entirely, as posts linked with them were “consistently” found in violation of the rules.

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The purge comes days after EU Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton penned a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg warning of potential penalties over the spread of false information or hate speech on his platforms. A company spokesperson later said that teams were working “around the clock” to limit misinformation, including by working with third-party fact-checkers.

The platform’s obligation to moderate posts and remove illegal content in the EU stems from the new European Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into force for major platforms in August. Failure to comply with the rules could result in penalties, including fines equal to 6% of a company’s global annual turnover.

X (formerly Twitter) was hit with a similar warning by the EU internal markets chief, who announced a formal probe into the site earlier this week. Like Meta, the company has also insisted it is taking strong action against violent or misleading content, saying it had “redistributed resources” and “refocused teams” to manage posts related to the Israel-Gaza war.