Meta urged to lift ban on the word 'shaheed'

Meta's independent oversight board recommended on Tuesday that the company should cease its general prohibition of the Arabic term "shaheed," meaning "martyr" in English.

Publication: 26.03.2024 - 14:03
Meta urged to lift ban on the word 'shaheed'
Abone Ol google-news

This suggestion follows a comprehensive year-long review that criticized Meta's policy as excessively broad, leading to the unwarranted restriction of speech for millions of users.

The board, though funded by Meta, operates autonomously and argued that the social media giant should only delete posts featuring "shaheed" when they directly associate with evident violence or otherwise violate Meta's regulations.

This decision is part of a broader critique regarding Meta's content management related to the Middle East. A 2021 study, commissioned by Meta itself, highlighted the negative human rights impacts of its policies on Palestinians and other Arabic-speaking users. Criticism intensified following the escalation of conflict between Israel and Hamas in October, with rights organizations accusing Meta of censoring pro-Palestinian content amidst the Gaza conflict that erupted after Hamas' incursions into Israel on October 7.

The oversight board's findings underscored that Meta's policies on "shaheed" failed to recognize the term's diverse meanings, leading to the removal of content not intended to glorify violence. "Meta's reliance on censorship under the guise of safety has proven ineffective and marginalizes entire communities without enhancing safety," stated Helle Thorning-Schmidt, co-chair of the Oversight Board.

Meta's current practice is to eliminate any posts referencing "shaheed" in connection with individuals or groups it classifies as "dangerous organizations and individuals," including various militant groups, drug cartels, and white supremacist organizations. The company contends that using "shaheed" in these contexts amounts to glorification, which it prohibits. Hamas is identified by the company as a "dangerous organization."

After beginning a policy reassessment in 2020 without reaching an internal consensus, Meta requested the board's perspective last year. The board disclosed that "shaheed" led to more content removals on Meta's platforms than any other term. In response to the board's recommendations, a Meta spokesperson stated the company would evaluate the feedback and respond within 60 days.

Most Read News