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Why is Meta funding and platforming a terror-linked NGO?

The realization that an organization entrusted with influencing online hate-speech policy is itself engaging in it makes the spread of anti-Semitism on social media these last few years far more understandable.

Meta. Crfedit: Pixabay.
Meta. Crfedit: Pixabay.
Yifa Segal
Yifa Segal

It appears that Meta has let the anti-Semitic fox guard the henhouse.

7amleh-The Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, an Israeli NGO, is one of Meta’s worldwide “trusted partners” that influences its hate-speech policy and enjoys considerable credibility, prestige and even funding from the tech company in return. Yet upon closer inspection, and as a 7amleh conference currently taking place reveals, the organization frequently engages in Jew-hatred and maintains troubling ties to Palestinian terrorism.

These discoveries raise significant concern over how tech companies recruit and review those they entrust with impacting their practices.

As reported by the Daily Wire, 7amleh has collaborated with proxies of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), a U.S.- and E.U.-designated terrorist organization. For example, 7amleh established the Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition alongside Al-Haq and Addameer, both of whom were designated by Israel as terrorist entities in October due to the functions they perform on behalf of the PFLP.

Among 7amleh’s staffers is monitoring and documentation officer Ahmad Qadi at 7amleh, who still works for Al-Haq to this day. Ola Marshoud, the digital security trainer at 7amleh, was sentenced by Israel to seven months imprisonment in 2018 for actions as a member of Hamas’s Islamic student bloc.

7amleh and its staffers have also voiced support for terrorists such as PFLP leader Ghassan Kanafani, whom the organization lauded as a “distinguished Palestinian personality.” Nadim Nashif, 7amleh’s director and co-founder, called convicted PFLP airplane hijacker Leila Khaled, a “resistance icon.” Such blatant anti-Semitism and support for terrorism should not be acceptable to Meta.

Despite the evidence above, Meta still considers 7amleh one of its “trusted partners” in pursuit of their “shared goals” to keep harmful content offline. Likewise, as a member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety Council and one of a mere 20 focusing on digital and human rights, 7amleh “engages Twitter on priority challenges and policy issues in the realm of human rights, free expression, civil liberties and defending the digital rights of people on Twitter.”

In addition to Meta arguably platforming a terror-supporting NGO, three of its representatives operating in the spheres of the Middle East, public affairs and public policy, along with six other officials from Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp and Clubhouse, are gracing 7amleh’s three-day annual Palestinian Digital Activism Forum this week alongside Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and U.N. Special Rapporteur Mary Lowler.

This respectable guest list should not be surprising considering 7amleh’s trusted status among Twitter and Meta (which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp). What is more surprising, however, is that 7amleh has recruited conference speakers with deep and abiding ties to Palestinian terror, and that fact hasn’t stopped these companies from lending their names and representatives to the event.

For example, there is Omar Nazzal from the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, who was held in administrative detention by Israeli law enforcement in 2016 due to conducting unlawful activity for the PFLP. Hussein Hammad from the PFLP-linked Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, who according to the research institute NGO Monitor, received an award from a PFLP branch named for PFLP terrorist Abdullah Mohsin in honor of completing his master’s degree.

In light of all this, how can Meta and Twitter entrust 7amleh to help them fine-tune policy, algorithms and community standards? Better yet, how did the group secure this status in the first place? Are there similarly questionable organizations that enjoy the vaunted “trusted partner” status? These questions are all the more pertinent as tech platforms fall under increasing scrutiny for their allegedly selective enforcement measures and biased behavior.

Even the slightest bit of research would have shown that 7amleh is not fit to hold such an important position with Meta and Twitter. Although tasked with influencing their approach to human and digital rights, 7amleh itself seems to be guilty of promoting terrorism against Israel and anti-Semitism.

The realization that an organization entrusted with influencing online hate-speech policy is itself engaging in it makes the exponential spread of anti-Semitism on social media over these last few years far more understandable.

If the terror-supporting, Jew-hating fox is tasked to define anti-Semitism and put an end to it, no one should be surprised when the exact opposite transpires. Users deserve to know more about 7amleh and other “trusted partners” who affect the world’s leading tech platforms, which, in turn, affect the public writ large.

Adv. Yifa Segal is an expert in international law, former chief of staff of Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, and former chair and CEO of the International Legal Forum.

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