Skyline warns Social Media platforms are shutting activists’ accounts over solidarity with Sheikh Jarrah
Stockholm - Skyline condemned social media platforms for shutting down dozens of activists' accounts and deleting their posts following the online campaign to stop the Israeli violations against residents of the “Sheikh Jarrah” neighborhood in Jerusalem. This kind of policy extends the violations against Palestinians and activists alike.
Saturday, Skyline discovered that Twitter and Instagram restricted hundreds of users from posting, tweeting, or even sharing stories because of their posts in solidarity with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah. Residents began a demonstration against the government’s decision to expell them from homes in favor of Israeli settlers at the beginning of 2021. The forced expulsion resulted in clashes between residents and the military, and various reports indicated that the Israeli army carried out severe violations against activists and demonstrators.These practices violate international rules that guaranteed freedom of opinion and expression without restriction or prosecution.
Skyline states that the closure and limitations of accounts and posts came in the wake of the electronic campaign under the hashtag in English and Arabic #SaveSheikhJarrah. Using this hashtag, thousands of social media activists worldwide have uploaded and shared video content and images about the attack. These posts showed the Israeli army’s unjustified attacks against Palestinian homes and gatherings in the occupied Jerusalem. Accordingly, many activists stated that their posts were removed after receiving a notification saying they “violated community standards.”
Hundreds of activists shared screenshots of their closed accounts and blank screens after they had shared posts related to the forced expulsion of Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah. This behavior indeed limits their right to express their opinions. In this regard, Instagram stated that “we know that some people have faced problems in uploading and browsing stories. This is a widespread technical issue and was not focused on any particular location or topic and has now been fixed.”
The human rights foundation “Skyline” indicated that restricting publication and closing accounts was not limited to the “Instagram” platform, as the “Twitter” company also closed dozens of accounts that published or sympathized with residents of the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in occupied Jerusalem.
Sada Social, a Palestinian digital rights organization, condemned Twitter’s administration for shutting down dozens of activists’ accounts, saying: “the closure of these accounts is a punishment for activists and collusion between the Twitter administration and the Israeli security services, to reduce interaction with the Sheikh Jarrah cause.” Additionally, Skyline highlighted the Sada Social report for April 2021 that monitored 38 violations against Palestinian online content: 30 breaches by Facebook, two by Twitter, one by Tik Tok, and YouTube and WhatsApp.
Skyline insists this is not the first time mainstream media censure Palestinian content. The Israeli electronic unit routinely sends thousands of requests to social media sites to delete Palestinian activists’ content by reporting their publications and posts. The number of requests reached 19606 requests.
Finally, Skyline called on social media companies to stop their policies that violate international law’s rules, notably the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the rules for human rights for companies that collectively guaranteed freedom of opinion and expression and the dissemination of content without restriction or prosecution. It stressed that the continuation of social media companies’ restrictive policies hold them legally responsible and prove their immoral bias towards the Israeli side at the expense of Palestinian rights guaranteed in international law.