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Meta bans posts criticising ‘Zionists’ in latest attack on free speech

On Tuesday, Meta announced it will remove any posts made to Facebook or Instagram containing the word “Zionist,” a term considered “anti-Semitic hate speech” by Jewish lobbying groups.

  • The policy update is being attacked as a blow to users’ free expression while, at the same time, hailed as an effective means to “combat anti-Semitism” by Jews averse to criticism stemming from Israel’s genocidal war on Gaza.
  • Posts will be removed from these platformers if moderators determine that they use antisemitic rhetoric or threats against Jews or Israelis under the guise of criticising Zionists.
  • While bans are already in place regarding the term “Zionist,” the new measures expand on the subject and prohibit specific uses.

Zooming in: Meta’s decision was reached after a bevy of Jewish groups that monitor so-called “anti-Semitism” approached the social media company. Now, they’re calling for others to adopt similar practices.

  • According to reports, Meta consulted with almost 150 advocacy groups and “experts,” including CyberWell, an Israeli nonprofit designed to provide a “solution” to digital hate speech.
  • Groups like the Tel Aviv-based Cyberwell are said to have adopted the controversial International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism and allegedly provided Meta with data demonstrating a “widespread” use of the term “Zionist” as a euphemism for Jews and Israelis.

The conversation: Jewish organisations have hailed it as a “landmark decision,” while those critical of Israel’s actions in the Middle East remain outraged at yet another blow to their free speech.

  • “Meta’s decision is a much-needed advancement in our ongoing fight against online antisemitism and hatred…By recognising and addressing the misuse of the term ‘Zionist,’ Meta is taking a bold stand against those who seek to mask their hatred of Jews,” said Ronald Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress.
  • “The use of the term ‘Zionist’ to spread antisemitic vitriol while avoiding detection has been used by radicals on the far left and extremists on the far right. Today, Meta has spoken through thoughtful action,” said the executive director of CyberWell, Tal-Or Cohen Montemayor.
  • “Indeed, Mark Zuckerberg will decide which criticism of Zionists is ‘legitimate free expression’ — not the First Amendment,” said Chris Menahan of InformationLiberation.

This article originally appeared on the Justice Report and is republished by The Noticer with permission.

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