Doha News compiled all the community-tested tips on how to evade Meta’s shadow bans and censorship of Palestinian content.
Social media users across the world have been rallying online in a bid to bypass rampant censorship on platforms like Instagram, Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter.
Users have developed a range of ways to navigate through what they describe is a biased algorithm designed to amplify pro-Israel stances and silence Palestinian content.
On Instagram, users who have been shadow-banned have been publishing “for the algorithm” posts on their stories to break up the content and in turn throw off the technology.
In today’s digital landscape, social media has become an indispensable tool for activism, advocacy and the dissemination of information, however users across the world say they have been targeted for their Palestine posts.
Here’s how social media users say you can bypass the bias:
- Use original images: Its recommended to post photos from your camera roll over screenshots or downloaded pictures.
- Random Imagery: Posting pictures of nature or grass helps against shadowbanning. Placing these between serious stories can break up the algorithm’s perception of your account as solely political. Some users advocate inserting captions like “algorithm break” or “shadowban,” although this may also reduce visibility.
- Interaction boost: Liking, reacting to, and responding to other users’ stories improves their visibility.
- Keyword censorship: Avoid direct use of sensitive words like “Palestine,” “Genocide,” “Ethnic cleansing,” “Gaza,” and “Hamas.”
- Screen shots over directly written text: If you’re typing something in your stories, take a screenshot of your draft and post that instead.
- Algorithm manipulation with hashtags: If shadowbanned, use hashtags like #IStandWithIsrael but make them invisible or hidden. This subverts the algorithm by showing your post to a broader audience without revealing the hashtag.
- Engage with Instagram features: Make use of Instagram’s features like polls, GIFs, and reactions to improve your stories’ visibility.
- Adjust your settings: Navigate to Settings > Privacy > Sensitive Content > More, and adjust as needed for maximum visibility of other users’ stories.
Meta’s relationship with ‘Israel’:
A report issued in September 2022 confirmed what civil society organisations and human rights defenders have been saying and documenting for years about Meta’s discriminatory policies towards Palestinians and their supporters.
The report by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR), an independent consulting firm commissioned by Meta, acknowledged bias in the platforms’ moderation practices, with significantly disproportionate consequences for Palestinian and Arabic-speaking users’ digital rights.
One of its main conclusions is that Meta’s actions contributed to violations of Palestinians’ rights to free expression and assembly, political participation and non-discrimination.
“There is over enforcement on Palestinian Arabic content and under enforcement on Israeli Hebrew content,” the report revealed.
In 2019 Israelis sent over 20,000 requests to social media platforms to take down Palestinian content.
7amleh‘s monitoring of digital rights violations, and the responses of social media companies during Israel’s attempts to forcibly evict Palestinian families from their homes in East Jerusalem during that period, noted the removal of posts and accounts documenting Israel’s violations of Palestinian rights in Arabic, as well as the spread of incitement against Palestinians in Hebrew, among other transgressions.
As of October 11, 7amleh has detected more than 19,000 cases of hate speech and inciting content in the Hebrew language on X, formerly known as Twitter.