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Palestinian fired over Gaza censorship sues Meta – Reuters

Ferras Hamad has accused Mark Zuckerberg’s company of bias and discrimination

A former engineer has accused Meta – the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – of being biased against Palestinians, according to Reuters.

Ferras Hamad filed a lawsuit in California on Tuesday, alleging discrimination and wrongful termination. He had been an engineer on Meta’s machine learning team from 2021 until February.

Meta was deleting internal employee messages by Palestinian-Amerians that mentioned the deaths of their relatives in Gaza and investigated their use of Palestinian flag emojis, Hamad alleged. By contrast, no such investigations were launched into employees using Israeli or Ukrainian flags, he said.

According to Hamad, he was fired after pointing out irregularities with an emergency procedure for handling “site events” (SEV), when it resulted in restrictions on Instagram posts by Palestinian personalities. In one case, he said in the complaint, a short video by photojournalist Motaz Azaiza showed a destroyed building in Gaza, but Meta had labeled it as pornographic.

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When Hamad attempted to resolve that case, Meta told him he was violating the policy barring employees from dealing with the accounts of people they knew personally – although Hamad insists he is not personally acquainted with Azaiza.

The former engineer had handled SEV cases related to Gaza, Israel and Ukraine before, and obtained confirmation in writing that this was part of his job description. He filed an internal discrimination complaint in January, but was fired a few days later.

Meta did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Mark Zuckerberg’s social media behemoth has been widely criticized by human rights groups over its censorship of content related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – specifically, suppressing the Palestinian viewpoint. Almost 200 employees have raised concerns about the matter in an open letter to Zuckerberg and other executives, earlier this year.

The Gaza-based Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a series of raids into Israel on October 7 last year, dubbed ‘Al-Aqsa Flood.’ An estimated 1,200 Israelis were killed in the attacks, while another 250 were taken captive. Israel responded with a military offensive that has claimed the lives of over 36,000 Palestinians and devastated much of the enclave’s infrastructure.


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