It is no secret that social media platforms are clearly biased against the Palestinians. We find them deleting any posts or pages or even disabling accounts because they published something that shows sympathy for them or reveals the brutality of the Israeli occupation. The Arab user has no choice but to circumvent the algorithms of those platforms to publish what he can, because the objection has never yielded any results. So when will we get rid of Western companies’ control over social media platforms? Can Arabs launch their own platforms to expose the crimes of the Israeli occupation?
We know that the most popular and used social media platforms are American in origin, and on top of them Facebook AndInstagram AndWhatsapp (It is owned by Meta Company, which he founded and chairs Mark Zuckerberg whose ancestral roots go back to Jewish immigrants from Austria, Germany and Poland), YouTube and X (Twitter previously), in addition to two non-American platforms, Telegram and TikTok.
Since the start of the Israeli war on Gaza, digital platforms have witnessed a rapid increase in violence and hate speech against Palestinians. The “Violence Index”, a linguistic model supported by artificial intelligence techniques developed by the “7amleh” Center (the Arab Center for Social Media Development), was monitored until November 1. November: More than 590,000 contents of violence, hatred, and incitement, especially in the Hebrew language, and most of these cases were concentrated on the “X” platform. The Palestinian Observatory for Digital Rights Violations (Hurr) also documented more than 1,009 violations of Palestinian digital rights, which varied between cases of removal or restriction, Hate speech and incitement to violence.
According to the “7amleh” Center, the social media platforms affiliated with Meta Company have for years become a scene for the spread of violations of the digital rights of Palestinians, especially censorship practices to silence Palestinian voices and the Palestinian narrative, and since the outbreak of the war on Gaza On October 7, the Center documented, through the Hur Observatory, a total of 627 violations on Meta platforms, including 443 incitement to violence or hate speech and 283 restrictions and removals.
Campaign Center also believes that since the acquisition Elon Musk On Twitter, his platform, which became known as “X,” has become a hotbed of hate speech and incitement to violence against Palestinians. He said that this reality “goes back to before the current escalation, but its severity has increased now.”
Telegram and Tik Tok
These previous restrictions made many Palestinians – led by the Palestinian resistance itself – and their sympathizers turn to two non-American platforms. The first is the Telegram application, which was launched by two Russians in 2013, before they left Russia in 2014 under the pretext of government pressure. It is believed that the company’s current headquarters are in Dubai. In the United Arab Emirates.
Telegram has about 800 million users, and it actually provides much greater freedom of publishing than what American platforms offer. It is distinguished from the WhatsApp application by a very important feature, which is the ability to publish stories to groups whose members can reach up to 200,000, or publish them in channels to an unlimited number of users, in exchange for 512 people in WhatsApp groups that also recently launched a channel feature similar to Telegram channels.
But on the other hand, this freedom of publishing available on Telegram is a double-edged sword, as this application does not include content control algorithms, which also made it a hotbed for hate speech and incitement to violence against Palestinians.
As for the second platform, it is the Tik Tok application, which allows publishing small video clips. This application – of Chinese origin – has one billion active users monthly, and its popularity is extremely popular among young people and teenagers, but the application’s current headquarters and servers are located in the United States and are subject to American laws, which is why we find it It began banning much of the content supporting the Palestinian cause, especially after the Al-Aqsa Flood operation, although it is still more flexible than its counterparts such as the Meta and X platforms.
What’s the alternative?
Here, we have to ask the following question: Why do we not have an Arab communication platform, similar to the Chinese platforms that escaped American control, to publish everything that would support the Palestinian cause and expose the crimes and massacres of the Israeli occupation?
This question was posed by Al Jazeera Net to a number of specialists in this regard.
Consultant and digital marketing trainer Ammar Muhammad believes that creating an Arab platform for social media is relatively complex, as there is a need to support investment funds in the field of social media, and there must be a unified platform on which the Arab world can come together without any restrictions so that we can raise our issues according to the customs of societies. Values and respect for people.
As for media and communication researcher Abdul Hakim Ahmin, he believes that the restrictions and restrictions imposed by American social media sites on publishing about what is happening in the Gaza Strip and on the Palestinian narrative have caused a shock to Arab and international public opinion.
The researcher added that this prompted users to circumvent the restrictions or bans imposed by these sites, so they began cutting up Arabic and English words, and inserting symbols and numbers into their writing. Users also created sites specifically for how to tweet and blog to avoid the ban.
Regarding the possibility of having an Arab social media platform; He said that many countries have created social media networks specific to their region, such as India, Russia, China, Turkey, France, and even Norway, because they know that American social networks are controlled by the companies that created them. He added that there are small networks that include professionals, technicians, painters, or readers. Or researchers located in countries of the world and even in the Arab world, which means that any official or private entity that has financial funding can create a social networking site that starts from the Arab environment and spreads throughout the world.
Ahmin stressed that there are financial resources and many creative minds capable of making this experiment a success, but the issue requires a political decision from rulers and decision-makers, adding that they have a good opportunity to create a global Arab social media network.
For his part, computer engineer and technical expert Zuhair Namous preferred to address the technical aspect of this matter, as he believes that the best way to get rid of minority control over the current Internet is to use Web 3 technologies instead of the current Web 2 technologies.
The main difference between the two technologies – according to Namous – is the lack of central databases to store the state of applications. Web 2 is, by its nature, centralized and every aspect of it can be controlled according to the client-server model, while Web 3 allows users and devices to interact across a peer-to-peer network without the need for an intermediary to regulate interaction processes, creating a new, decentralized Internet that focuses on humans and preserves privacy.
The engineer believes that Web 3 is the best opportunity for humanity to be able to distribute this control over the Internet and take it away from the hands of major companies, which have become stronger than some countries at times, according to his opinion. He adds that with Web 3, control will be for the users themselves and not for companies, and therefore the ban will not be imposed. The user simply wrote a post that does not suit the platform owners.
However, Namous believes that Web 3 technology still faces major challenges before it is adopted, noting that the developer communities are in constant discussion to reach solutions, but the road is still at its beginning.