Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, said last week that it would enact temporary measures to push down extreme or graphic imagery coming out of Israel and Gaza. In doing so, thousands of Palestinian supporters now say that their posts have been suppressed or removed from Facebook and Instagram, even if the messages do not break the company’s rules.
In particular, messages of support for Palestinian civilians, many of whom have been displaced, injured or killed by Israeli airstrikes, are being removed from the platforms, users said. Some people have also reported that Facebook suppressed accounts that called for peaceful protests in cities around the United States, including planned sit-ins in the San Francisco Bay Area over the weekend.
Aya Omar, an artificial intelligence engineer, told the Times that she was unable to see Palestinian media accounts she regularly reads because Meta and Instagram were blocking those accounts from users. She said that people were seeing a sanitized version of the events occurring in Gaza.
“Instagram and Facebook are actively blocking posts about the factual history of Israel/Palestine, sometimes cloaking it as ‘technical difficulty,’” the Hampton Institute, a progressive think tank, said Sunday in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter.
Meta has cautioned that some posts may be temporarily suppressed or suspended as it sifts through millions of posts spreading across its platforms. In some cases, the company said, there were technical difficulties that suppressed posts that should have been widely visible.
“We identified a bug impacting all Stories that re-shared Reels and Feed posts, meaning they weren’t showing up properly in people’s Stories tray, leading to significantly reduced reach,” Andy Stone, a Meta spokesman, said in a post on X on Sunday. “This bug affected accounts equally around the globe and had nothing to do with the subject matter of the content — and we fixed it as quickly as possible.”
One hashtag, #Zionistigram, which was attached to posts critical of Instagram’s suppression of pro-Palestinian content, appeared to be temporarily quashed over the weekend, returning no results under searches for the term.
Many Palestinian supporters have flocked to other platforms to get their messages out, while criticizing Meta’s content moderation. LinkedIn, used mainly for professional networking, has seen an influx of posts critical of Israel’s response to Hamas and supporting civilian victims in Gaza.
Others have posted in the comments section of widely followed Instagram and Facebook accounts, pleading for support. The comments under the most recent post from Beyoncé, whose Instagram account has more than 274 million followers, have been flooded with Palestinian and Israeli supporters trying to drum up support for their causes. Many of those messages have been copied and pasted for broader circulation across Instagram and Facebook.
In a blog post last week, Meta said it did not side with any one cause.
“We want to reiterate that our policies are designed to give everyone a voice while keeping people safe on our apps,” the company said. “We apply these policies regardless of who is posting or their personal beliefs, and it is never our intention to suppress a particular community or point of view.”
Meta also acknowledged that it won’t always get it right, especially in times of global crisis.
“Given the higher volumes of content being reported to us, we know content that doesn’t violate our policies may be removed in error,” the company said.