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The Shadowy World of Social Media Censoring Content about the Gazan Genocide

Reeman, Al Mustaqbal School, Palestine

The genocide in Gaza had a profound impact on people around the world. People have been protesting, using their voices and social media platforms to speak their opinion about the “war” going on in Gaza.

People who have been using the internet to explain the situation or trying to save Palestinians by starting fund raisers to gain money and evacuate them from Gaza have been claiming to have less views and had videos taken down, and even accounts banned from TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, etc.…

These platforms have created lists of words and phrases under an algorithm that will shadow ban any posts including them such as Gaza, genocide, war, Palestine, Hamas, ceasefire, FreePalestine, and #IStandWithPalestine. Even mentioning other cities in Palestine are also avoided by pro-Palestine creators.

Content creators, influencers, and users have reported a rapid and sudden drop in their views. On Instagram, pro-Palestine creators or people who have mentioned one of the major censorship words on their posts claim Instagram has put them on the side of Instagram in which only a small number of followers can view it.

The spokesperson for Meta has blamed all of this on a bug and has continued to say Meta will work on fixing it as soon as possible.

Meta users have also reported Meta restricting sharing posts about the Gaza genocide across platforms.

On TikTok’s side of all this, content creators have made filters and songs to gain money and donate it to their families or others stuck in Gaza to help them evacuate. TikTok has banned those filters, slowing down the process of gaining money. Each time they apologize and unban the filters they ban them again later. Content creators who have posted anything about this matter had their videos taken down, some even report receiving warnings from TikTok that their account is about to be banned.

Israel has requested those platforms to take down an estimate of 8,000 posts, and the number has been increasing as the genocide goes on. They are weaponizing these platforms to serve their agenda.

In reply to this, people have promoted their alt accounts (back up accounts) in case their original one gets banned as they fear. Users also created code names for Gaza and Palestine like Watermelon, olive branches, doves, and more. people have also purposely misspelled some letters like “a,” which they wrote as “@,” or “o” as “0”, “i” as either “1” or “!”, and many other alternatives. Till today they are still creating new and creative ways to trick this algorithm.

So, will these shadow bans stand in the way of freedom of expression?

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