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Facebook ‘censors’ Palestinian writer posting anti-corruption articles

This is a cross post from The Commentator

Social networking website Facebook has today been accused of attempting to silence critics of the Palestinian Authority as it cracked down on the page owned by Arab-Israeli writer Khaled Abu Toameh.

Abu Toameh, the son of an Arab Israeli father and a Palestinian mother, is a former senior reporter for the Jerusalem Post. He has reported that as of yesterday, his Facebook page had been deactivated.

The Commentator has learned that following complaints from the Palestinian Authority and Jordanian security authorities about his articles dealing with corruption, Facebook had taken the steps necessary to effectively censor his work.

In speaking this morning to us, Abu Toameh noted, “All I have done recently is share some articles which have been in the Jordanian press (in Arabic) about corruption. I am for transparency, against corruption, and yet they ban my account and continue to allow the leader of Hamas to have an account. I am not in favour of terrorism like he is. This is an attempt to silence me. To do this to a journalist is very bad.”

Facebook sent the following pro-forma e-mail to Abu Toameh yesterday evening: “You posted an item that violated our Terms of Use, and this item has been removed. Among other things, content that is hateful, threatening, or obscene is not allowed, nor is content that attacks an individual or group. Continued misuse of Facebook’s features could result in your account being disabled.”

Toameh also told The Commentator that over the past few days, he has been the subject of much online abuse, as well as threats and an apparently concerted smear campaign against him.

This recently culminated in the posting of an article on the ‘Sabbah.biz’ website, accusing Toameh of being an ‘Israeli Hasbara agent’ and showing a picture of him with the Star of David on his head. The website is run by ‘Haitham Sabbah’, who is based out of Tulkarm in the West Bank.

A petition is already being circulated calling for Facebook to restore the account, stating: “It is not the role of Facebook to act as a censor of the truth so please sign to put pressure on to reopen this account if there is to be a chance for peace, stifling the truth and hiding the reality of corruption and incitement of hatred instead of promoting a peaceful solution is not the way.”

Abu Toameh’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Sunday Times, Daily Express and other newspapers. He has been a senior advisor at the US based Hudson Institute and a senior reporter for the Jerusalem Post.