Facebook filtered interviews with Palestinian-American and Israeli activists on Thursday, according to podcaster J.G. Michael, with views dropping by about 30% from his average until he changed some of the keywords in the episode’s description to make it more neutral.
The podcast’s first segment featured a discussion with Huwada Arraf, co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) discussing the Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct. 7. ISM is a Palestinian-led organization that practices direct action, non-violence, and documentation of illegal actions in Palestine by Israel.
The second segment featured Jeff Halper, head of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD).
Halper, who is Jewish, leads the non-violent ICAHD, which advocates against illegal house demolitions Israel carries out in occupied Israeli territory, as well as for a democratic Israeli state with rights for all citizens.
“Most of my shows within the first day get a thousand hits,” Michael told the Daily Dot. “I don’t know how you’d calculate this but it was 300 less views.”
“I took out ‘Hamas attack’ [from the description] and changed it to ‘October 7th attack.’ I also took out the part about Political vs Cultural Zionism,” he said, describing concepts explored by the liberal Jewish columnist Peter Beinart.
Michael shared screenshots from some of his fans showing what happened when they tried to share the episode on Facebook.
“This is the podcast Facebook doesn’t want you to hear,” wrote Richard Silverstein in his post, which triggered a spam filter from Facebook and didn’t allow it to be posted. Silverstein is the creator of the Tikun Olam blog, which advocates a “progressive (critical) Zionist” position and calls for a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders.
“[The Podcast] falsely categorizes a post promoting a podcast with an Israeli American and Palestinian American as ‘spam,’” Silverstein wrote in his post. “Censorship. Pro Israeli apologists and Facebook don’t want you to know that Jews and Palestinians are united in their disgust at the Gaza genocide.”
“This Post Can’t Be Edited,” reads the spam filter alert. “Posts that look like spam according to our Community Guidelines are blocked on Facebook and can’t be edited.”
The Institute for Research Middle Eastern Policy (IRmep), a non-profit think tank that studies U..S-Middle East policy, also couldn’t share the link on its page, according to screenshots shared with the Daily Dot. Its post also got hit with the spam filter.
Another listener commented on one of Michael’s posts that he also tried to share the episode.
“I shared some of the links and got zukked,” they wrote on Friday.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, didn’t respond to a question about whether they were filtering keywords related to the Israel-Palestine war or if their content moderation policy was taking the conflict into account in recent weeks.