META

Meta's Oversight Board Urges Company To Remove Ban On Arabic Word 'shaheed'

(RTTNews) - Meta Platforms, Inc.'s (META) independent oversight board has recently advised the company to lift its broad prohibition on the common use of the Arabic term "shaheed" or "martyr" in English, citing that this approach is excessively restrictive and hinders the expression of numerous users.

While the board acknowledged that extremists may use the word to glorify individuals who died in violent acts, they emphasized that "shaheed" can have non-glorifying connotations as well. The board, supported by Meta, advised the platform to only remove posts containing "shaheed" if they are associated with clear indications of violence or violate other Meta policies.

Helle Thorning-Schmidt, co-chair of the Oversight Board, criticized Meta's belief that censorship enhances safety, arguing that it can alienate communities without enhancing safety measures. This criticism has increased since the conflict between Israel and Hamas in October, as rights organizations have accused Meta of censoring content supporting Palestinians on Facebook and Instagram during the conflict in Gaza.

"Terrorism destroys lives and undermines the very fabric of our societies, but it is counterproductive to stop journalists from reporting on terrorist groups and to limit people's ability to debate and condemn the violence they see around them just because of the presence of a single word," said Oversight Board co-chair Helle Thorning-Schmidt, in the statement.

The Oversight Board stated that restricting discussions due to a single word can be counterproductive. Meta's policy review on "shaheed" in 2020 did not result in a decision, leading to the Board's intervention in 2023. Meta requested the Board's input following the internal disagreement.

The Board mentioned that "shaheed" caused more removals on Meta platforms than any other word or phrase. A Meta spokesperson stated that the company will review the Board's feedback and respond within 60 days.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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