Meta tightens control of content after Hamas attack

October 15, 2023 by AAP
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Facebook’s parent company, Meta, says it is taking additional measures against the spread of illegal and misleading content online following the attack by Islamist Hamas on Israel.

Facebook logo. Credit: via Flickr.

In the first three days after Hamas fighters carried out massacres last Saturday, the company “removed or marked as disturbing more than 795,000 pieces of content” in Hebrew and Arabic for violating its policies and guidelines, Meta said.

“As compared to the two months prior, in the three days following October 7, we have removed seven times as many pieces of content on a daily basis for violating our Dangerous Organizations and Individuals policy in Hebrew and Arabic alone,” Meta said in a statement on Friday.

The company said it was also removing content that clearly identifies hostages kidnapped by Hamas in order to prioritise their safety.

It also restricted “a number of Instagram hashtags” after assessing that content associated with them was found to be consistently violating guidelines.

Meta said it was exercising particular caution when it comes to Facebook and Instagram Live as Hamas has threatened to show hostages on those platforms.

The company said it put restrictions in place for some users who have previously violated the company’s policies.

Meta also pointed out that in 2021 it had tracked down and removed a network of profiles linked to Hamas.

“These fake accounts attempted to re-establish their presence on our platforms,” the company said.

“We continue to stay vigilant and take action against violating adversarial behaviour in the region.”

On Wednesday, EU Commissioner Thierry Breton said he wanted to be informed immediately about details of the measures Facebook had taken to curb harmful content.

After Elon Musk’s online platform X, formerly Twitter, responded to a similar request with very general information, the service received an official list of questions from the EU Commission.

Breton had pointed to evidence that X was circulating manipulated images and recordings from video games that were passed off as real footage.

The situation surrounding the Hamas attack is the first major test for the European Union’s new Digital Services Act (DSA), which obliges online platforms to take strict action against harmful content including hate speech.

Infringements of the DSA can result in fines. For designated companies, financial penalties can be up to six per cent of global turnover.

In exceptional circumstances, with a court order, a company can be temporarily shut down.

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