Facebook has been forced to apologise for “accidentally” blocking pages belonging to several editors and executives of two Palestinian news agencies. The affected individuals are claiming that this was no mistake and happened due to a recent agreement between Facebook and Israel to “reduce incitement” on social media.
Overall, four editors from the Shehab News Agency and three executives from the Quds News Network were blocked from Facebook over the weekend. The company has restored access to the affected accounts, although one editor has claimed to still being blocked
Faceboook itself has said that the accounts were blocked due to an error, and were restored once the team was able to investigate the problem. It appears that someone had flagged the accounts as inappropriate; causing the automated system to block them. It is not clear why the accounts were flagged in the first place.
An editor from the Shehab News Agency believes that this is the start of a wider campaign against news coming from the occupied West Bank. Facebook has been facing challenges as it tries to become an increasingly important source of news for its users.
This is not the first time that the company has been in trouble with the news. Facebook content curators were originally accused of favouring liberal media when deciding on trending news topics. Of course, the social media giant eventually got rid of the human element of its news curation; which didn’t help when the new algorithm starting sharing fake stories.