Facebook’s social media outlets are battling plummeting approval ratings and ad sales in the Middle East, apparently linked to the disproportionate silencing of Palestinian voices – or “technical glitches”.
Facebook is grappling with a reputation crisis in the Middle East, with plummeting approval rates and advertising sales in Arab countries, according to leaked documents obtained by NBC News.
The shift corresponds with the widespread belief by pro-Palestinian and free speech activists that the social media company has been disproportionately silencing Palestinian voices on its apps – which include Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – during this month’s Israel-Hamas conflict. Examples include the deletion of hundreds of posts condemning the eviction of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood of Jerusalem, the suspension of activist accounts and the temporary blocking of a hashtag relating to one of Islam’s holiest mosques. Facebook said these were technical glitches.
Instagram has taken the greatest reputational hit, according to a presentation authored by a Dubai-based Facebook employee, with its approval ratings among users falling to a historical low.
“Users are feeling that they are being censored, getting limited distribution, and ultimately silenced,” a senior FB software engineer said.
Since the start of the latest Israel-Hamas conflict, the metric among Instagram users in Facebook’s Middle East and North Africa region is at its lowest in history, and fell almost 5 percentage points in a week, according to the research. “The biggest changes came from Qatar, Jordan, Palestine and Saudi Arabia,” the presentation states.
Source: NBC News