Sunday , April 2 2023

Twitter under fire for censoring Palestinian public figures


RAMALLAH, OCCOPIED WEST BANK: On December 15, Twitter owner Elon Musk suspended the accounts of some journalists, including reporters from newspapers like the New York Times and the Washington Post. Defending his decision, Musk claimed the journalists had breached the company’s new rule about revealing people’s locations.

The suspensions were condemned by the journalists’ newspapers and other media organisations even the European Union and the United Nations weighed in, saying the move set a dangerous precedent. A day later, Musk lifted the suspensions after running a poll in which respondents went against his preferred outcome but there had been no such global outrage two weeks earlier about the suspension of the account of Said Arikat, a veteran Palestinian journalist based in Washington, DC, on December 3.

He is the Washington bureau chief for the Jerusalem-based al-Quds, one of the most widely read Palestinian daily newspapers, and a mainstay of Department of State news briefings with his fiery questions about Palestine and the Arab region.

Asked whether he thought his suspension from Twitter was related to him being outspoken about Palestine, Arikat told media; “I believe it does. I can’t think of any other reason.

“I was hacked before the suspension, but that’s about it,” he said, adding that Twitter had cited that as the reason for suspending his account.

Noura Erakat, a renowned Palestinian human rights advocate and lawyer, had her account suspended on January 8, days after Arikat got his back. Palestinian activist circles, in which Erakat was a prominent figure, took up her cause and the resulting outrage saw her account reinstated the next day.

Erekat had also received a notification from Twitter that her account was being suspended because it had been hacked. Both she and Arikat messaged Twitter to inquire about the decision to suspend their accounts but received no replies.

Arikat has been the subject of several articles by right-wing pro-Israel outlets, which claim that his questions to State Department spokesman Ned Price about issues regarding Palestinians were antagonistic and aimed to demonize Israel. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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