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Meta Enforces New Rules to Combat Anti-Semitic Hate Speech on Its Platforms

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Meta has introduced new rules to remove posts containing the term 'Zionist' when used in a dehumanizing or anti-Semitic manner, aiming to curb hate speech on its platforms.

Meta's New Policy on Hate Speech

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced a significant policy change aimed at reducing hate speech on its platforms. The company will now remove posts containing the term 'Zionist' when it is used to refer to Jewish or Israeli people in a dehumanizing manner or with anti-Semitic stereotypes. This decision comes in response to the growing polarization of public discourse, particularly in the context of the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

The Role of Experts in Shaping Policy

The social media giant began deliberating on the moderation of this term five months ago. Meta consulted numerous experts, including historians, jurists, and associations, to determine whether 'Zionist' primarily refers to supporters of a political movement or to Jewish or Israeli people. Meta's guidelines permit general attacks against political party members but prohibit targeting groups defined by nationality or religion. The company concluded that there is no global consensus on the term's meaning but found that it is frequently used in hate speech against Jews and Israelis.

Examples of Prohibited Content

Meta provided specific examples of content that will now be removed. These include claims that 'Zionists' control the media or rule the world, dehumanizing comparisons to pigs, filth, or vermin, and calls for physical violence. Previously, moderators only removed posts that explicitly compared Zionists to rats or clearly targeted Jews or Israelis. Meta has also relaxed its regulations on the Arabic term 'shaheed,' commonly translated as 'martyr,' which was previously banned for inciting hatred.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has exacerbated hate speech online, with numerous Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks appearing on social networks. Amnesty International has urged Meta not to ban criticism of Zionism or Zionists in general, arguing that it could stifle voices opposing the Israeli government's systematic violations of Palestinian rights.

  • Meta's policy change is a response to the increasing polarization of public discourse, particularly due to events in the Middle East. The company aims to balance the need to curb hate speech while allowing legitimate political discourse.
  • The consultation with experts was crucial in shaping the new policy. By involving historians, jurists, and associations, Meta ensured a well-rounded understanding of the term 'Zionist' and its implications in different contexts.
  • The examples provided by Meta serve as guidelines for what constitutes hate speech. By specifying that claims of media control, dehumanizing comparisons, and calls for violence are unacceptable, Meta aims to create a safer online environment.
  • The relaxation of the ban on the term 'shaheed' reflects Meta's nuanced approach to content moderation. While the term was previously considered to incite hatred, the new policy acknowledges its broader cultural and linguistic significance.
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Refs: | Le Figaro | Le Parisien |

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