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Meta Faces Legal Heat: Engineer Sues Over Alleged Pro-Palestinian Content Bias

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A former Meta engineer has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging wrongful termination and bias against pro-Palestinian content on Instagram. This case brings to light ongoing criticism of Meta's content moderation practices.

A former engineer at Meta has filed a lawsuit against the company, alleging wrongful termination linked to his attempts to address bias against pro-Palestinian content on Instagram. Filed in California, the lawsuit claims that Faras Hamad, a Palestinian-American and member of Meta's machine learning team since 2021, was unfairly dismissed last February.

Hamad's lawsuit not only asserts wrongful termination but also highlights systemic bias against Palestinian content within Meta. According to Hamad, the company's biases are evident in how it handles posts related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He points out that while Palestinian-related content gets restricted or deleted, similar measures are not applied to Israeli content. Additionally, Hamad alleges that Meta investigated employees who used the Palestinian flag emoji but did not scrutinize those using the Israeli or Ukrainian flags.

This lawsuit brings to light long-standing criticisms from human rights organizations regarding Meta's biased content moderation practices. Recently, Meta faced backlash when an Israeli campaign was temporarily removed from Instagram, only to be later reinstated. Maayan Sharig, Meta Israel's VP of Communications and Partnerships, claimed it was a technical glitch. Despite this, such incidents have refueled claims of Meta's partiality towards Israeli content.

Moreover, Hamad's lawsuit highlights internal concerns, mentioning that Meta even deleted internal communications among employees grieving relatives in Gaza. This internal censorship, paired with external restrictions on pro-Palestinian posts, underscores ongoing accusations of discriminatory practices within Meta.

Hamad's allegations draw further attention to Meta's broader policies on content. Previous incidents, such as the restriction of Palestinian-supportive content in 2021, were condemned by organizations like Human Rights Watch, which stated that Instagram had unfairly deleted pro-Palestine photos, videos, and comments under the pretense of combating hate speech and incitement.

In response to such criticisms, Meta announced earlier this year that it would expand its recommended content policy on Instagram and Threads. This expansion aims to ensure that posts dealing with political content or sensitive social issues are not recommended to users who do not follow those accounts. However, this policy has not alleviated concerns over the alleged partiality in the company's content moderation practices.

  • Hamad's lawsuit specifies an instance where a video of a destroyed building in Gaza posted by journalist Moataz Azaizeh was mistakenly classified as 'pornographic,' highlighting flaws in Meta's content classification algorithms.
  • Since the outbreak of the war on Gaza, there have been numerous claims from the Israeli side about Meta's perceived bias favoring Palestinian content, demonstrating the contentious and complex nature of content moderation in conflict zones.
  • Human rights organizations have consistently raised alarms over what they perceive as Meta's deliberate suppression of Palestinian voices, suggesting a need for more transparent and equitable content moderation mechanisms.
Clam Reports
Refs: | Aljazeera | Israel Hayom |

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