Zoom Stock – Facebook : running special center to respond to content on Israeli-Gaza conflict
May 19 (Reuters) – Facebook Inc set up a 24-7
“special operations center” last week to respond to content
posted on its platform about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
and address any moderation mistakes amid violence in the region,
the company said on Wednesday.
Misinformation, hate speech and calls for violence about the
conflict have circulated on social media platforms amid the
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue
fighting against Gaza militants after U.S. President Joe Biden
urged him to seek a “de-escalation” on Wednesday in the 10-day
conflict on the path to a ceasefire.
“This operations center allows us to closely monitor the
situation so we can remove content that violates our community
standards faster, while also addressing possible errors in
enforcement,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of
content policy, told reporters on a conference call.
Facebook has previously set up similar operations centers to
focus on situations like global elections.
Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told Reuters that Facebook’s
head of global affairs, Nick Clegg, and other executives had on
Tuesday talked to Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.
Facebook executives previously met with Israeli Defense Minister
Benny Gantz via Zoom, Politico reported last week.
A Reuters fact-checking team has debunked images shared on
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram that falsely claim https://www.reuters.com/article/factcheck-gaza-child/fact-check-photo-shows-a-palestinian-child-mopping-up-cow-blood-in-his-parents-slaughterhouse-it-is-unrelated-to-the-current-violence-in-gaza-and-israel-idUSL2N2N627T
to be related to the conflict.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that there has also
been a surge of new groups formed on WhatsApp, the
Facebook-owned encrypted messaging service, by Jewish extremists
for the purpose of committing violence against Palestinians.
“As a private messaging service, we do not have access to
the contents of people’s personal chats though when information
is reported to us, we take action to ban accounts we believe may
be involved in causing imminent harm,” a WhatsApp spokesman
said. “We also quickly respond to valid legal requests from law
enforcement for the limited information available to us.”
Social media platforms have also come under fire over
allegations of censorship amid the conflict. Last week, BuzzFeed
News reported that Facebook-owned Instagram had mistakenly
removed content about the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
The Thomson Reuters Foundation also reported that Instagram
and Twitter Inc had blamed glitches https://reut.rs/3ouaf0t
for the deletion of posts mentioning the possible eviction of
Palestinians from East Jerusalem.
On Facebook’s call with reporters on Wednesday, Bickert said
the Facebook operations center was staffed by experts across the
company, including native Arabic and Hebrew speakers. Facebook,
which is based in California, has been criticized in the past
for lacking local language expertise and resources amid violent
situations in other countries.
Bickert also said Facebook had activated a feature for its
third-party fact-checking partners – of which Reuters is one –
to use keyword detection for grouping related content around the
conflict. She said it had been used in the past, for content
about COVID-19, elections and U.S. and Australian wildfires.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York
Editing by Kenneth Li and Matthew Lewis)