LONDON: Violent speech directed against Arabs and Palestinians on social media increased 15-fold during the recent hostilities in Gaza, a report has found.
Between May 6 and May 21 when clashes with Israel were most severe, hate speech against Palestinians rose dramatically in comparison with the same period in 2020, according to the Arab Center for Social Media Advancement, or 7amleh.
The center recorded 1.09 million posts on social media platforms, with 16.8 percent containing racism, slurs or incitement against Arabs.
Among tweets shared widely, one reads: “A good Arab is a dead Arab,” while another reads: “Death to all Arabs.”
Most violent speech (58 percent) took place on Twitter, compared with only 8 percent on Facebook and 1 percent on Instagram.
The same period also witnessed widespread censorship of Palestinian posts on social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
7amleh documented 500 cases of digital rights violations of Palestinians, which included content being taken down and accounts being removed.
Tech giants have been the targets of strong criticism from users for censoring Palestinian content.
Facebook was the target of a coordinated social media campaign launched by pro-Palestine activists in an attempt to push down the app’s ranking on Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play.
While Instagram changed the way it displays content after claims of blocking Palestine-related content, other social media giants have been reluctant to take similar steps.
Instagram said that the “stories” feature was built according to an algorithm that favors original content as opposed to existing and reshared posts. As a result, any Palestine-related content that was reshared from other accounts was pushed lower in the Instagram feed.
Social media has been crucial for people in the Middle East to document and spread information on destruction of homes, forced displacement and violence.