On Wednesday (6th December 2023), Uplift hosted a session in the AV Room in Leinster House for Ireland’s TDs and Senators to talk about Meta’s censorship of Palestinian voices and under-moderation of hate speech and disinformation in Hebrew on Meta’s platforms (primarily Facebook and Instagram). Representatives from 7amleh, the Arab digital rights organisation, and Jewish Voice for Peace in the US, elaborated on the censorship issues on Meta’s platforms and shed light on the risks associated with misleading recommender systems. You can watch the full presentation here.
7amleh have long been documenting specific instances of censorship, including shadowbanning, biased translations, and the spread of disinformation that has impacted users discussing Palestine on Facebook and Instagram. Their extensive research has brought to light the challenges faced by journalists and regular users trying to share their perspectives on these platforms.
By chance, on the way into the session, Uplift staff spotted the Head of Policy for Meta Ireland, Dualta Ó Broin, on his way into the Oireachtas Media Committee so we managed to chase him down and deliver our message to him and explain exactly what’s happening and why it needs to stop.
He didn’t seem very happy to see us.
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But the day’s work wasn’t over. After the session we met activists from all around the country, at a protest outside Meta’s European headquarters in Dublin, urging the tech giant to address and cease the censorship of Palestinian content.
Uplift members had all chipped in for a massive billboard truck that read “Meta Stop Censoring Palestine” to make sure the company, its staff and anyone passing by on their way home from work would be in no doubt about the harm being caused by Meta’s actions and lack of action.
Our protest even made the Six One news.
This isn’t the first time Uplift members have targetted Meta for its biases. In 2017, a brutal genocide of Rohingya Muslims was carried out by the army in Myanmar. Amnesty International have clearly stated that Meta’s dangerous algorithms and reckless pursuit of profit substantially contributed to the atrocities.
Uplift members again stepped up to hold Meta to account with actions projecting our message onto the company’s Dublin headquarters as well as organising for a Rohingyan Muslim, Maung Sawyedullah, to write a full analysis and get it published in Silicon Republic. You can read this amazing piece here.
Ireland doesn’t have arms factories like they do in the UK; but what we do have is international headquarters of every major tech platform like AirBnB, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google and Meta. Tech is never neutral and these platforms have an incredible influence on how real-world events unfold, especially in situations of extreme violence.
The work that Uplift members, alongside experts from 7amleh.org, are doing is vital in ensuring we hold these massive corporations to account and foster an online world, and an offline world, in which we can all life safe, secure lives – no matter who we are, where we come from, what we believe or who we love.