Meta Takes Measures Against Hamas-Related Disinformation

In the wake of a recent escalation of conflict between Hamas and Israel, social media giant Meta has intensified its efforts to combat disinformation on its platforms.

In response to growing concerns about the spread of misleading claims and doctored images related to the conflict, Meta has taken proactive steps to remove content praising and supporting Hamas. This move comes after the European Union reprimanded social media companies, including Meta and X, for their perceived inaction in curbing disinformation.


Rapid Response to Misinformation Surge


In the aftermath of the October 7 attack by Palestinian terrorist group Hamas on Israel, social media platforms, particularly Facebook, were inundated with misleading content. Within a span of three days following the attack, Meta reported the removal or marking of over 795,000 pieces of content in Hebrew and Arabic, demonstrating its swift response to the surge in misinformation.

This is happening on both sides, with AI generated images in circulation and very few tools available to discern them from real images.


Protecting Victims: A Priority for Meta


One of Meta’s immediate actions involves the temporary expansion of its violence and incitement policy. The company is removing content that explicitly identifies hostages taken by Hamas, even if such content is intended to condemn or raise awareness about their situation. While images with blurred victims are permitted, Meta has prioritised the safety and privacy of kidnapping victims, ensuring their protection in the face of distressing circumstances.



Proactive Measures to Prevent Threats


Meta is acutely aware of Hamas’ threats to broadcast footage of the hostages and has pledged to swiftly remove any such content. Additionally, the company has decided to lower the threshold for its technology to take action.

This proactive approach aims to prevent the recommendation of content that may potentially violate the platform’s rules. By doing so, Meta intends to create a safer online environment for its users.


Balancing Social and Political Discourse


While Hamas remains banned from Meta’s platforms, the company continues to uphold the principles of social and political discourse. This means that discussions related to news reporting, human rights, and academic discourse, as well as neutral and critical discussions, are allowed. Meta’s commitment to free speech and open dialogue stands firm, even amidst the intensified efforts to combat disinformation.


Meta vs. X


In contrast to Meta’s proactive approach, X (formerly Twitter) has sought further clarification from the European Commission regarding the alleged violations on its site.

The Commission, in response, has initiated an investigation into X’s handling of disinformation. This divergence in responses shows the varying strategies adopted by social media platforms in response to the EU’s pressure to remove illegal and harmful content, as outlined in the Digital Services Act (DSA). Failure to comply with the DSA could lead to substantial fines, prompting social media companies to carefully navigate the complex landscape of online content regulation.

In any case, any social media users should approach content with caution, before blindly accepting it as fact.