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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Khaled Abu Toameh blasts Facebook

This past week, the Facebook account of journalist Khaled Abu Toameh was 'accidentally' taken down. Although it was subsequently restored, it was first restored without certain posts that criticized the 'Palestinian Authority' and the government of Jordan. Subsequently, those posts were restored. In this piece, Abu Toameh reminds Facebook of what its role is supposed to be.
Many Palestinian journalists, and those in the Middle East, are forced to use Facebook to publish what their own media will not accept. The media in the West Bank is mostly controlled by the Palestinian Authority, which has repeatedly demonstrated a large degree of intolerance toward any form of criticism. The same applies, of course, to most Arab dictatorships.
Arab governments have obviously become wary of the use their critics are making of Facebook to air their grievances and opinions. In some countries, including the Palestinian Authority, intelligence services have set up special teams to monitor Facebook and other social media networks in search of critics and "dissidents."
But the problem becomes worse when Facebook itself starts removing material that bothers dictatorships and tyrants.
One can only hope that the same Facebook employee who "accidentally" removed the article will make the same mistake and close down accounts belonging to terrorist organizations and their leaders.
Take for example, the account of senior Hamas official Izzat al Risheq, or the numerous accounts that promote hatred and violence and are openly affiliated with terrorist and jihadi groups.
All one has to do is log in to these accounts, especially the ones in Arabic, to see how most of them are engaged in all forms of incitement.
Those behind these pages are not seeking to achieve progress by "challenging current conceptions," as George Bernard Shaw noted. Instead they are using Facebook, among others, to spread messages of hate and abuse against anyone who does not share their views.
Many Arab and Palestinian journalists and intellectuals have long been waging a fierce campaign to get rid of censorship in their countries. Some have even paid with their lives to achieve this goal, while many others have been arrested or are facing intimidation and terror. It is the duty of Facebook and Western societies to side with those seeking freedom, and not to be complicit in suppressing their voices.
Read it all.

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