Facebook’s AI treats Palestinian activists like it treats American Black activists. It blocks them.

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Pro-Palestinian demonstrators rally Sunday in Karachi, Pakistan. (photo: Shahzaib Akber / EPA-EFE / REX / Shutterstock)
Palestinian activists are fighting back against a history of takedowns with one-star reviews and ancient Arabic.

By Elizabeth Dwoskin and Gerrit De Vynck | The Washington Post | May 28, 2021

“Ultimately, what we’re seeing here is existing offline repression and inequality being replicated online, and Palestinians are left out of the policy conversation,”
Jillian York, a director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Just days after violent conflict erupted in Israel and the Palestinian territories, both Facebook and Twitter copped to major faux pas: The companies had wrongly blocked or restricted millions of mostly pro-Palestinian posts and accounts related to the crisis.

Activists around the world charged the companies with failing a critical test: whether their services would enable the world to watch an important global event unfold unfettered through the eyes of those affected.

The companies blamed the errors on glitches in artificial intelligence software.

In Twitter’s case, the company said its service mistakenly identified the rapid-firing tweeting during the confrontations as spam, resulting in hundreds of accounts being temporarily locked and the tweets not showing up when searched for. Facebook-owned Instagram gave several explanations for its problems, including a software bug that temporarily blocked video-sharing and saying its hate speech detection software misidentified a key hashtag as associated with a terrorist group.

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