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Malaysia condemns Facebook for deleting Gaza updates amid company’s internal pro-Palestinian censorship row

31st May 2024
Malaysia condemns Facebook for deleting Gaza updates  amid company’s internal pro-Palestinian censorship row

Nadine Osman

Malaysia has criticised Meta for deleting government Facebook updates related to Gaza amid the company’s internal debate over pro-Palestinian censorship.

On May 15, Malaysia informed Facebook that posts about Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Doha, Qatar, had been removed.

Malaysia’s Communications Minister rebuked the tech giant for censoring official government communications concerning the PM’s meeting with the political faction of Hamas.

“As a minister, I condemn Meta’s takedown of posts by the media, all the more because these are reports of the prime minister’s official visit to Qatar,” said Fahmi Fadzil.

The ministry penned a letter to Meta, requesting clarification on the matter. Fahmi stated that his ministry had been informed by at least three media portals that their social media posts concerning Anwar’s meeting with Haniyeh had been removed.

“I will be meeting all social media providers in June so that official events by the prime minister will not be treated this way (in the future),” he added. He stated his intention to convene a meeting with Meta next month to address the removal of the posts.

The tension between the Malaysian government and Meta surfaced just a week after Meta employees publicly criticised the platform for suppressing expressions of solidarity with Palestinians during the ongoing conflict.

In a recent open letter published in Business Insider, Meta employees voiced their concerns to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, condemning the company’s alleged efforts to suppress “any public support for… Palestinian colleagues or the millions experiencing a humanitarian crisis in Palestine.”

Meta employees claim that an internal letter sent on December 19, 2023, was disregarded because it violated the company’s Community Engagement Expectations (CEE), suggesting that internal discussion on the topic is prohibited. Consequently, the employees addressed their concerns externally in a “follow-up” letter to Meta’s CEO and leadership.

Seeking more inclusivity on the matter to discuss the humanitarian issue, the employees wrote in their public letter, “Any open support for our Palestinian colleagues or the millions facing a humanitarian crisis in Palestine is met with internal censorship of employee concerns, biased leadership statements showing one-sided support, and external censorship that is raising public alarm and distrust of our platforms.”

Exposing the extensive censorship that occurred within their internal workplace forums, these employees exposed the misleading facade of “Your voice is valued” adopted by the CEE.

They highlighted that CEE was used as a pretext to delete differing opinions and silence staff who were either seeking support from their colleagues or trying to raise awareness about creating safer products.

Additionally, many employees expressed feeling disturbed, ignored, and unsafe, to the extent that some decided to leave their positions. They also emphasised the testimony of a former employee who reported that any mention of Palestine was consistently removed.

In their open letter, the employees also pointed out that Meta leaders showed support for their Israeli colleagues and condemned the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, both internally and externally.

They highlighted a statement by Meta CEO Zuckerberg on Facebook, denouncing Hamas’ attacks as “pure evil” and stressing that there’s no justification for terrorism against innocent people.

However, the employees criticised the company for what they perceived as bias and inequality in its response, particularly the lack of condemnation of attacks on Palestine.

They highlighted instances where discussions about the work environment for Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, anti-Zionist Jew, and anti-genocide colleagues were erased from the Workplace platform.

Additionally, some employees claimed they were rebuffed or penalized for raising concerns, and their feedback on the official forum chat was dismissed.

(Photo credit: Anthony Quintano/Flickr CC)


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