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Instagram lists one of the holiest mosques in Islam as a terrorist organization

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According to internal employee communications seen by BuzzFeed News, Instagram deleted posts about one of the holiest mosques in Islam and blocked hashtags because its content review system incorrectly associated the site with the company’s name reserved for terrorist organizations .This error is just the latest content review failure of Instagram and its parent company Facebook, the company is facing accusations from users all over the world This is about the censorship of Israeli aggression To the Palestinians.

The error was flagged internally by distraught employees on Tuesday, causing Instagram to delete or block posts with the label of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site of the Islamic faith.Since Friday, the mosque has been Conflict location Clashes between Israeli police forces and Palestinians, many of whom visited the place to pray during the last few days of Ramadan.

In order to draw attention to the violence, Instagram users posted videos with the hashtag #AlAqsa or its Arabic #الاقصى or #الأقصى hashtags, and found that their posts had been deleted or hidden from search results. Some notices indicated that the Facebook-owned Instagram deleted these posts because they were related to “violent or dangerous organizations.” When employees learned of the dismissal and the reasons behind it, some employees filed internal complaints.

In one case, an employee saw that Instagram deleted an infographic describing the situation in Al-Aqsa because it was related to a “violent or terrorist organization”. After the employees filed a complaint, they wrote in an internal post that they were told that the picture had been deleted, “based on a reference to the designated organization’alaqsa'”, a Facebook term referring to “Dangerous individuals and organizations. “(The content was finally restored after the complaint.)

“These errors and many others are completely unacceptable,” the Facebook employee wrote on an internal communication platform on Tuesday. “Aqsa is the third holiest place in Islam and the core aspect of the faith of approximately 1.8 billion people.”

Facebook’s censorship of posts about Al-Aqsa comes at a time of extreme tension and violence in the region. So far Since fighting broke out last week, 53 Palestinians, including more than a dozen children and 6 Israelis, have died and more than 300 have been injured. As people used Instagram and Facebook to spread information from the ground — from the violence of the Palestinians in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem who were forcibly deported to Al-Aqsa — some people discovered that their posts were blocked or deleted.

For critics and even some employees, Facebook’s latest content review failure proves that the American company lacks knowledge and resources in the region, and shows that when its products are used by more than 3 billion people, even careless mistakes can occur. A huge impact on the world.

Facebook previously told Middle East News Media Countries Posts with the label Al-Aqsa were “incorrectly restricted,” but an internal post obtained by BuzzFeed News on Wednesday went a step further, stating that the content was deleted because Al-Aqsa was also Organization name approved by the U.S. government.”

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the content of Wednesday’s internal post.

Last week, Palestinian Instagram users also complained that stories about the conflict on Instagram or short videos and images that lasted 24 hours on the platform were also deleted. On Friday, the company blamed this error on a social network error that affected the sharing of stories by users worldwide.

These mistakes caused some Facebook employees to reflect. In a post over the weekend, an employee wrote in an internal group, “The outside world believes that Facebook is suppressing political speech in time and apologize later.”

“Some of these incidents are manual review errors, while others are automated. I am not familiar with which is more common, but why can’t decision makers use local expertise [Middle East and North Africa] Before deciding to remove sensitive labels or political content, please consult with areas such as public policy or communications,” they wrote, and then shared screenshots of various users who complained that their Instagram posts have been censored. They also pointed out, Instagram users around the world have launched a campaign to give negative reviews of the Instagram application in the Google Play store.

In response, Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, wrote a day later that the company has a team to “categorize and clear any problems.”

However, this effort has not prevented the continued deletion of content about the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where the clashes began when the Israeli police attacked Palestinians last Friday. Who gathered Observe the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The complaint regarding the review of content with the Al-Aqsa hashtag continued until Tuesday, when the employee concerned reported that a post was mistakenly deleted.

Although there is a Palestinian armed coalition in the West Bank called the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, it is considered a terrorist entity by the United States and the European Union, as well as other similarly named organizations such as the Al-Aqsa Foundation Considered by the U.S. government as part of its support network, A key Facebook employee said that this is not an excuse to review the Al-Aqsa Mosque hashtag.

They wrote: “It would be totally unacceptable if there was a designated group called troublemakers in Washington, and the post only mentioned the word Washington is being taken down.” “I really want to emphasize that we This part of the user group has felt alienated and censored, and after encountering so many such problems-whether it is technical or product problems-our users will not bring us the benefit of doubt.”

On Wednesday, an employee of the company’s dangerous organization and personal policy team wrote in an internal post that the term “Aqsa (الأقصى)” “should not and will not violate our policies.”

They wrote: “As many of you rightly pointed out, just using the same name as the designated organization does not make the location and organization the same.” “Our policy does not require the removal of people, places, or organizations with the same name as the designated organization. Things-so any removal based solely on mentioning the name of the mosque is definitely a law enforcement error, and they shouldn’t have happened in our policy.”

Others are not very confident about Facebook’s internal explanations. Ashraf Zeitoon, who served as Facebook’s policy leader in the Middle East and North Africa from 2014 to mid-2017, pointed out that the company has hired some of the world’s top terrorism experts, and they can definitely mention Al-Aqsa and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.

He said: “It is a lame excuse for them to determine that a word in a two-character name is related to a terrorist organization,” he pointed out that he participated in the drafting of the company’s policy on how the company designates terrorist organizations and their content. “They are more qualified than this, and more capable than this.”

Zeitoon cited Facebook’s internal concerns about disrupting Israel’s interests and over-reporting content as potential reasons for removing Aksa’s videos and images.

In response, a Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that Aksa’s content was restricted because of human error, not because of any government requirements.

Facebook’s removal and blocking of some Palestinian content caused employees of the social network to speak out internally. Before the Thursday company-wide routine meeting expected to be hosted by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, some employees began to ask a question: “Our integrity system is failing marginalized groups (see: Palestine, BLM, Indigenous women). What will we do?”

This question ranks low on the list of popular questions, and after at least three different questions about Facebook’s work-from-home policy, there is another wondering if Mark Zuckerberg will host Saturday night liveLast weekend, Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared in a variety show.

In another question, an employee asked whether Facebook would move its regional office out of Tel Aviv. Due to Israeli restrictions, some Palestinian-American employees could not access the office.Noting human rights watch Designation of Israel as a apartheid country, They asked whether Facebook would reconsider its location in Israeli cities.

A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

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