Meta, the social media giant, has announced that it has removed hundreds of thousands of “disturbing” posts related to the Israel-Hamas war. This move comes after pressure from senior European Union officials to cut down on hateful or misleading content on its platforms. In the past three days alone, Meta has removed over 795,000 pieces of content in Hebrew and Arabic, which is seven times the usual rate.
The majority of the removed posts violated Meta’s “Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy,” as they supported or glorified Hamas, the Palestinian militant group responsible for launching a deadly assault on Israel. Meta clarified that Hamas is banned from its platforms, and it removes any praise or substantive support for the group when it becomes aware of it. However, the platform will continue to allow social and political discourse, such as news reporting, discussions on human rights, and academic discussions that remain neutral or condemnatory.
In addition to posts related to Hamas, Meta also removed content containing violent or graphic images, hate speech, incitement, or coordinated harm. It also took down any content that clearly identified Israeli hostages still held in Gaza. Meta shut down certain hashtags entirely, as they were consistently linked to posts that violated the company’s rules.
This purge of content comes after European Union Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, warning of potential penalties over the spread of false information or hate speech on Meta’s platforms. In response, Meta’s spokesperson stated that teams were working tirelessly to limit misinformation, including collaborating with third-party fact-checkers.
This obligation to moderate posts and remove illegal content in the EU stems from the new European Digital Services Act (DSA), which came into force for major platforms in August. Non-compliance with the DSA rules could result in severe penalties, including fines equal to 6% of a company’s global annual turnover.
Meta is not the only platform facing scrutiny from the EU. X (formerly Twitter) has also been warned by the EU internal markets chief and is under formal investigation. X has emphasized that it is taking strong action against violent or misleading content related to the Israel-Gaza war, redistributing resources and refocusing teams to manage such content.
It is important for major social media platforms to address and tackle hate speech, false information, and violent content on their platforms. While promoting freedom of speech and political discourse, platforms must ensure that they do not become breeding grounds for harmful or misleading content. The actions taken by Meta and other platforms to remove such content are vital in maintaining a safe and responsible online environment.
In conclusion, Meta’s removal of hundreds of thousands of disturbing posts related to the Israel-Hamas war is a response to pressure from the European Union. The company is making efforts to cut down on hateful or misleading content on its platforms. It is important for social media platforms to comply with regulations regarding illegal content and take necessary actions to prevent the spread of misinformation and hate speech.