(JTA) – The independent panel that rules on disputes at the world’s largest social media company is taking up two challenged posts about the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, in cases with potential ramifications for how users will be able to talk about the war online.
The cases are the first to be taken on under a new expedited process adopted by the oversight board at Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, earlier this year.
The two appeals relate to posts about the war from both sides of the conflict. One is about a Facebook video appearing to show a Hamas militant kidnapping a woman during the terror group’s Oct. 7 attacks in Israel. The other was an Instagram video appearing to show the aftermath of a strike outside Al-Shifa hospital in the Gaza Strip.
Meta had initially removed both of the videos, claiming they violated the company’s terms of service, which specifically prohibit sharing violent content. But the company has since changed its mind, restoring both with tags warning of graphic content. The oversight board said it would issue a decision on the matter within 30 days, and the company is bound to follow the board’s decisions.
Social media has become the primary way most of the world has engaged with the war, as more and more images and videos purporting to be from Israel and Gaza circulate online — joining a stew of content that includes a large amount of misinformation and doctored or mislabeled images. Meta and other social media companies X/Twitter and TikTok have struggled with how to balance allowing freedom of expression on their platforms with curbing violent imagery or the spreading of terror propaganda.
In the case of the disputed posts, Meta initially claimed both violated its rules on sharing violent and graphic content. The company has also designated Oct. 7 as a terrorist attack, subject to rules that any content showing “identifiable victims” of such an attack is forbidden from its platforms. It has updated its own rules frequently since Oct. 7, most recently determining that hostage footage shown “in order to raise awareness and condemn the attacks” is permissible.
“Meta’s goal is to allow people to express themselves while still removing harmful content,” the company wrote in an update to its policies Tuesday. “If the user’s intent in sharing the content is unclear, we err on the side of safety and remove it.”
The disputed Oct. 7 Facebook video was posted by a user who appeared to be condemning Hamas and “urge[d] people to watch the video to gain a ‘deeper understanding’ of the horror that Israel woke up to on October 7, 2023,” according to the oversight board’s description of the post. The board did not share the post itself, but the description suggests that the video showed Noa Argamani, who became an early symbol of the hostage crisis after being abducted with her boyfriend from the Nova music festival. She remains a hostage in Gaza.
The video purporting to show the hospital bombing, meanwhile, was posted by a user who referred to the Israeli army as the “usurping occupation” and tagged various human rights organizations, the board said. The Al-Shifa hospital has become an epicenter of both Israel’s military operation and the larger information war, as Israel targeted the hospital while claiming that Hamas was using it as a command center — a claim that Israel later backed up by taking media outlets on a tour of a tunnel network connected to the hospital.
Even though both posts were restored, the oversight board’s rulings on them could affect how Meta moderates content about the war, and how permissive the company will be about images depicting its victims. Meta’s oversight board has taken up other Jewish issues in the past, including the company’s failure to remove a Holocaust-denying post and its decision to remove a post of a journalist criticizing Kanye West’s praise of Hitler.
“Crisis situations are not an excuse for social media platforms to suspend rules or default to censorship, they’re a reminder to double down on efforts to protect voice and safety,” Thomas Hughes, director of the Oversight Board Administration, said in a statement. “The Israel-Hamas conflict underscores the many challenges to content moderation during crisis situations. The Board looks forward to reviewing how Meta is following through on its human rights commitments, as well as past recommendations from the Board on how to manage crises.”
Jewish former Meta executive Sheryl Sandberg has also become ensnared in an information war related to the conflict, as her claim that Hamas raped female Israeli victims of Oct. 7 has been disputed on the very platforms she used to oversee.
Both TikTok and X have faced intense criticism for allowing antisemitic content to spread on their platforms, and — in X’s case — for owner Elon Musk’s own engagement with antisemitic content.
Gallant: Seizing Internal Hamas Documents Brings Hostage Deal Closer
i24 News – Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant provided a review to fellow ministers of weapons and documents belonging to Hamas, which were collected by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Document and Technical Means Collection Unit (Amshat) operating in the Gaza Strip.
“This morning we are hosting the government meeting at the IDF, in the defense establishment, to show the ministers exactly how we are achieving and deepening our achievements and what is coming out of the Gaza Strip,” Gallant explained.
“You can see a small part of the things here – missiles, explosive charges, mines, a great many maps, means of communication, documents, computers, drives, all these things which the IDF uses now on as intelligence, and not only that,” the defense minister continued.
“These demonstrate that we penetrated into the heart of the most sensitive places of Hamas and use their intelligence against them,” Gallant described the process of attaining the documents and weapons, hinting at some of the locations from where it was found.
“We are using their weapons against them, detonating them in the field, all this leads to the consequence of deepening and penetrating the heart of Hamas’ capabilities,” the defense minister said.
“The more we deepen our operations, the closer we get to a realistic deal in order to return the hostages,” Gallant concluded.
The post Gallant: Seizing Internal Hamas Documents Brings Hostage Deal Closer first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
UNRWA Chief Urged to Resign After ‘Absurd’ Pledge of Ignorance
i24 News – Israeli diplomatic leaders called for the resignation of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) Commissioner-General, Philippe Lazzarini, following denial of knowing about a Hamas data center under the agency’s headquarters in Gaza.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) revealed on Saturday night that Hamas built a vast network of tunnels under the UNRWA headquarters, with a base directly underneath that was even hooked up to its grid.
“The exposure of UNRWA’s Gaza headquarters’ deep involvement with Hamas, including its use for terror activities and as an access point to terror tunnels, requires immediate action,” the Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, posted on X.
“Philippe Lazzarini’s claim of unawareness is not only absurd but also an affront to common sense. His prompt resignation is imperative,” Katz concluded.
Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, also called for the UNRWA Commissioner-General to resign, responding “it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know.”
“We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did you refuse, you chose to stick your head in the sand,” Erdan added in a detailed post on X.
.@UNLazzarini it’s not that you didn’t know, it’s that you didn’t WANT to know. We exposed terror tunnels under UNRWA schools and supplied evidence that Hamas’ exploits UNRWA. We implored you to carry out a comprehensive search of all UNRWA facilities in Gaza. But not only did… https://t.co/bJsD66OwoO
— Ambassador Gilad Erdan גלעד ארדן (@giladerdan1) February 10, 2024
“Take responsibility and resign today!” the Israeli ambassador said, “Every day we find more proof that in Gaza the UN=Hamas and vice versa. Anything the UN says or claims about Gaza cannot be trusted.”
The post UNRWA Chief Urged to Resign After ‘Absurd’ Pledge of Ignorance first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Preparing for the Next ICJ Debacle
JNS.org – In the theater of the absurd commonly known as the International Court of Justice, judges are again preparing to ignore history and facts. Having weaponized the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide against the Jewish state, the judges are now preparing to hear oral arguments on the next oxymoron: The “legal consequences” of the “Israeli occupation” of “Palestinian territory.”
The glaring problem with this is that there is no such entity as the “Palestinian territories.” The term is an invented one used to define areas allocated by the international community to the Jewish state, which were then illegally invaded by Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Any discussion anchored on this false terminology should immediately be ignored and scorned.
In December 2022, the United Nations General Assembly, prompted by the Palestinian Authority, adopted a resolution to request from the ICJ an advisory opinion on the following question:
“Considering the rules and principles of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations, international humanitarian law, international human rights law, relevant resolutions of the Security Council, the General Assembly, and the Human Rights Council, and the advisory opinion of the Court of July 9, 2004:
“a) What are the legal consequences arising from the ongoing violation by Israel of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, from its prolonged occupation, settlement, and annexation of the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character, and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and from its adoption of related discriminatory legislation and measures?
“b) How do the policies and practices of Israel referred to in paragraph 18 (a) above affect the legal status of the occupation, and what are the legal consequences that arise for all States and the United Nations from this status?”
Following the request, the ICJ set a July 25, 2023 deadline for initial written statements to be submitted, with responses to be submitted by Oct. 25, 2023 and oral arguments to be made starting Feb. 19, 2024.
The underlying assumption of this debacle is that Israel is in some way “occupying” “Palestinian territory.” But is that really the case?
In reality, never in history has an independent country called “Palestine” ever existed.
In reality, the area the UNGA claims and has asked the ICJ to consider as “Palestinian territory” was controlled for 400 years by the Ottoman Empire.
In reality, after World War I, the international community repeatedly allocated the entire area from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, from Lebanon to the Red Sea, for the sole purpose of reconstituting the Jewish homeland.
In reality, the 1923 division of the geographical area called “Palestine” into two separate areas, one to be called the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the other remaining Jewish Palestine, was the real “two-state solution.”
In reality, in 1947, the United Nations offered the Arabs an opportunity to create another Arab country to the west of the Jordan River alongside Israel, but the Arabs refused. Instead, five Arab armies attacked the nascent Jewish state with the stated and express goal of throwing the Jews into the sea.
From 1948 to 1967, Egypt controlled the Gaza Strip and Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria, which it renamed “The West Bank.” During that time, no U.N. resolution of the General Assembly or the Security Council demanded that Egypt and Jordan retreat and desist from occupying those areas. No such request was made of Jordan since Jordan saw Palestine as an integral part of Jordan.
In reality, even U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, from November 1967, does not mention, even once, the notion of occupied “Palestinian” territory.
In fact, the idea that a State of Palestine ever existed and that Israel is occupying “Palestinian territory” seems to prove the billboard advertisement that “Palestine” is the only country in the world that did not exist before it was “occupied.”
Sadly, as the judges demonstrated with their shameful decision on the false claim of South Africa against Israel when it comes to the Jewish state, history, facts and the truth are just not relevant.
Originally published by The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.