“The move by Twitter to suspend our accounts, even though they were verified and have around one million followers in total, is an attack on the Palestinian narrative and journalism”, the co-founder of the Quds News Network, Raja Abdulhaq, said. “Unfortunately, suspending Twitter accounts of Palestinian news outlets under the excuse of ‘banning terrorist organisations’ gives the illusion that all Palestinians, including journalists, are terrorists for their mere existence and coverage of Israeli occupation”.
Among the accounts that have been removed are Hamas’ English and Arabic-language pages, as well as the account of the Hezbollah-affiliated television station Al-Manar TV.
The blocked accounts display the message: “Account suspended. Twitter suspends accounts which violate the Twitter rules”.
Suspending these accounts without prior warning, Twitter acted at the request of a group of US lawmakers that gave American social media companies, including YouTube and Facebook, until 2 November to do so. The company initially told the lawmakers that it distinguishes between the political and military factions of those organisations. But the congressmen insisted that allowing Hamas and Hezbollah to use its social media platform violates US law, as both organisations are considered terrorist groups by Washington, so “this distinction is not meaningful”.
According to Sina Azodi, a US-based expert on Tehran's foreign policy and Foreign Policy advisor at Gulf State Analytics, by designating these groups, “the US government can make a legal case for pressuring platforms to close these accounts”.
Azodi also said that Twitter is more proactive than Facebook in shutting down accounts that it deems inappropriate. The microblogging platform is known for taking swift action and deleting accounts without notice.
Sada Social, a site that monitors violations of various social media platforms against Palestinian content, says that blocking, restricting, and banning Palestinian content is due to Israeli pressure.
“This recent involvement of Twitter in adopting biased standards on freedom of expression and the right of access to information is a clear participating in helping Israel to cover up its crimes and violations against the Palestinian people, and a part of the escalating policies to block the Palestinian content on social media sites, in response to Israeli demands”.
In the past year alone, Sada Social said that it has recorded a growing number of violations against Palestinian content - more than 650 just on Facebook, calling the figures “alarming”. Violations were also found on YouTube, Twitter, and WhatsApp.
Professor Waleed al-Modallal, head of political science at the Islamic University of Gaza, described Twitter’s actions as biased against Palestinian and Arab movements and limits their social media freedom.
“As for Twitter's suspension of some accounts that are classified as ‘Islamic terrorist organisations’, I think that means narrowing the spaces of freedom that should be expressed through social media, especially as you may know that many countries recognise these movements and organisations as freedom fighters”, the professor shared his thoughts.
The Palestinian Information Centre and Facebook
In October, Facebook took down the page of the Palestinian Information Centre (PIC), which had almost five million followers.
“PIC considers this to be an anti-Palestinian and pro-Israeli occupation and oppression move from Facebook. Facebook has always sided with Israeli oppression against Palestinian voices which makes Facebook complicit in Israeli crimes”, the company said.
“Facebook gave no notice or warning to any of our content, which totally adheres to Facebook’s ‘loose and illusive’ community guidelines”, PIC added.
Established in 1998, the Palestinian Information Centre is considered to be the most widely read online Palestinian source.
The news network was able to launch a backup page that’s currently still up.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.