Palestinian activists call for boycotting Facebook over censorship

PNN/ Bethlehem/
A group of Palestinian activists are calling for boycott of Facebook after it recently deleted numerous posts and personal accounts, and suspended the work of a few pages and accounts upon Israeli requests.
Using the hashtag #FBCensorsPalestine, the campaign calls on Facebook users to refrain from posting and communicating on Facebook pages and accounts on Sunday “25-9-2016” from 8 pm until 10 pm (Jerusalem time zone).
Recently, more than ten accounts of admins and editors of the two biggest Palestinian media pages have been deleted without previous notice or warning, including Shehab News Agency and Al-Quds News Network.
According to Ayelet Shaked, the current Israeli Minister of Justice, the Facebook administration has complied to about 95 per cent of the Israeli authorities’ requests.
After several requests, the Facebook administration has been pushed to sign an agreement with the Israeli authorities in September 2016. The agreement aims among many objectives to monitor any Palestinian content posted on Facebook and to delete posts, pages and personal accounts that the Facebook administration finds annoying. This agreement serves the Israeli occupation purposes of controlling Palestinian virtual space.
The group in a statement wrote:
“The right to freedom of opinion and expression is respected and protected under international law and standards. As stipulated in Facebook’s terms of use, Facebook has been established for the purpose of providing people with an open platform to enjoy their right to freedom of opinion and expression.
“Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights lays down clear and strict conditions to curtail the right to freedom of opinion and expression. Any restriction shall only be accepted if provided by law and if proved to be necessary, which is not the case here.
“In general, laws restricting personal freedoms serve mostly regimes and authorities, and does not necessarily serve the wellbeing of people and societies. In this specific case, if the agreement is not withdrawn immediately, it will totally serve the Israeli occupation authorities’ interests in further persecution of the Palestinian people.
The group demanded the Facebook administration to withdraw from the agreement immediately and to respect international law and standards protecting the right to freedom of opinion and expression; Not render aid or assistance in maintaining an illegal situation created by Israeli occupation policies and practices regarding restricting Palestinians’ virtual space; Publish the agreement and its provisions; Clarify the mechanisms implementing agreements between Facebook administration and States, including this agreement;  Announce the conditions allowing Facebook administration to violate personal freedoms of internet users, and to enter into agreements with regimes and authorities to restrict these freedoms.
If this agreement passes and continues to be effective, it will contribute to further persecute Palestinians both on the ground and on the virtual space. This agreement will create a precedent for future agreements with other oppressive regimes and authorities violating people’s rights.

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