War between Israel and Gaza: An unequal battle also on social networks | International
Social networks have become a new battlefield today, and we only need to take a look at our messages these days to realize it. There is still a considerable number of people who underestimate the impact of technology in conflict situations, and this goes beyond issues related to weapons. Even fewer are aware that all human beings have the right to have their rights protected and guaranteed, also in the digital sphere. When these rights are violated, the consequences can be devastating in tangible reality, and this is especially evident in the case of the Palestinians.
Information plays a vital role in constructing stories. Unfortunately, in the context of historical Palestine, much of these narratives are partial and ignore the reality on the ground. This is due to various reasons, from geopolitics to the restrictions imposed by the military occupation, which hinder the mobility of journalists and researchers, to the business model of media and digital platforms itself. Added to this is that we are increasingly seeing an increase in online censorship of Palestinian voices and human rights defenders, particularly in times of escalating violence.
On social media, these Palestinians watch as their content is deleted, their accounts suspended, or their visibility restricted. According to the digital rights organization 7amleh, in a ten-day period between October 7 and 16, 2023, 238 cases of censorship were documented. These policies and practices of tech companies disproportionately affect content related to Palestine. In contrast, the official Israeli narrative, however violent it may be, has more room for freedom, since it is associated with official entities.
This discrimination seriously harms journalists, civil society and human rights defenders, and represents a serious threat to freedom of expression and access to information, an aspect even more crucial in crisis contexts. The power outage in Gaza also hinders Palestinians' communication with their loved ones, as well as the ability of journalists and human rights defenders to exercise their freedom of expression online. This prevents the world from understanding the complexity of the situation on the ground.
Another obvious impact of online content is the alarming volume of hate speech and calls for violence against Palestinians. The organization 7amleh, using artificial intelligence language models, identified almost 45,000 posts on platforms such as This content spreads unchecked on social media and includes calls for the destruction of Gaza or a new Nakba, even coming from Israeli officials. And it incites physical and collective violence against Palestinians, particularly by settlers in the West Bank and within Israel, a phenomenon that has increased in recent months.
Misinformation about the conflict is also spreading rampantly on virtual platforms, greatly distorting the narrative about what is happening in Israel and Palestine. Some of this false content is shared by international leaders and media outlets, even as thousands of users warn of the danger. This is not accidental, as disinformation aims to justify a massive collective punishment response against all Palestinians and increases the risk of incitement and thus further real-world violence. An additional objective of disinformation is to divert attention from the reality on the ground, as happened with the devastating attack on the Al Ahli Al Arabi hospital in Gaza: while the world is immersed in debates, it gradually forgets about the victims .
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The massive violence against the inhabitants of the Strip and the murders and arrests of civilians in the West Bank constitute an escalation in a context of violence and systematic violation of International Law that arises from decades of occupation and colonization. This also applies to technology, which is never neutral, something that is even more evident in situations of structural power asymmetry such as that existing in Israel and Palestine.
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- Allow me to introduce myself. I am Nathan Rivera, a dedicated journalist who has had the privilege of writing for the online newspaper Today90. My journey in the world of journalism has been a testament to the power of dedication, integrity, and passion.
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