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Meta to broaden hate speech policy to remove more posts targeting 'Zionists'

Company says it will crackdown on uses of 'Zionist' where it can be used to dehumanise Jews or Israelis
Social media users have long complained about Meta's censorship of criticism of Israel (AFP/Loic Venance)

Meta has said it will expand its hate speech policy to cover more uses of the word "Zionist" when applied to Jews or Israelis on its platform.

The update to the policy came, Meta said, after consultations with 145 stakeholders representing civil society and academia across the world.

"We will now remove messages targeting 'Zionists' in several areas where our investigation has shown that the term tends to be used to refer to Jews and Israelis, with dehumanising comparisons, calls to harm, or denials of existence," the company said in a press release on Tuesday.

Meta has been under pressure to crack down on both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian media accounts accused of inciting violence or spreading misinformation since 7 October.

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In December, Human Rights Watch said that Meta was guilty of “systemic censorship of Palestine content” during Israel's war on Gaza.

It attributed the problem to “flawed Meta policies and their inconsistent and erroneous implementation, over-reliance on automated tools to moderate content, and undue government influence over content removals”.

Since the start of Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip following the Hamas-led attack on 7 October, social media posts by Palestinian journalists and citizens have become key sources of information, as the Israeli government has banned international media from entering the strip.

Palestinians also use social media to call for help or get news about their loved ones amid the frequent Israeli-imposed telecommunications blackouts on the besieged territory.

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