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"MADA": Closing Facebook to 69 pages of Palestinian media and activists is a violation of freedom of expression

Ramallah - (27/5/2019) - The Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA) condemned the large campaign carried out by Facebook Company and closed dozens of personal pages of Palestinian journalists and activists during the past few days, and considered this a serious and dangerous violation of freedoms, especially since most of the pages that have been closed are widely watched, and their owners have not received any prior warnings or explanations from Facebook to justify closing the pages.

 

According to the follow-ups of MADA center field researchers, the closer campaign carried out by the Facebook on Thursday night and Friday morning (23 and 24 May 2019) reached at least 69 pages, including pages of 58 journalists and writers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. The rest of the pages belong to a group of activists and "citizen journalists".

 

Al-Hadath newspaper reporter in Gaza Muthana Najjar said to MADA field researcher that the Facebook management closed his Facebook page, which is followed by 44 thousand people without warning, noting that about a month ago it closed another page was followed by 135 thousand people, After a message appears in his browser's account "Privacy Violation", without knowing or informing him the nature of the intended violation. Also the Facebook account of Al-Aqsa TV journalist Ahmad Qudeih which followed by about 30,000 people has been closed without receiving any message or explanation as what he said to MADA field researcher.

 

According to the "Amd" media website reporter Safinaz Alloh, she said that Facebook closed the page that she established three years ago and followed by about 145 thousand people without warning.

 

Journalist Abdul Aziz Nofal told Mada researcher that his personal Facebook page had been disrupted since Friday morning, May 24, 2019. After trying to find out why, the Facebook administration asked him for his identity card. After sending it, they replied that “there is a mistake”. The next day, Nofal created a new personal account on Facebook, carrying his personal photo, with a single change of name, but Facebook blocked it quickly. This happened also with the journalist and TV presenter Mohammed Qatniyah, He created two other accounts, but they were also banned.

 

According to MADA researchers, all those who their personal pages were closed, received the same notice from Facebook, which is: "Hello, thank you for your response, we will ask you to reply and attach a picture of yourself with one of your list items" to the link. After sending their identity cards, they received the same response that an unknown error had occurred.

The journalist Wael Abu Omar - director of the Smart Information Center - in Gaza, whose account was permanently disabled, set up a new account from a place outside the Gaza Strip, and was not closed.

This campaign included the closure of the personal pages of the following journalists: Abdel Aziz Nofal, (programs presenter in Ma'an TV and Oroba radio station/ West Bank), Hafez Tallahmeh (editor and program coordinator at Radio Alam/ West Bank), journalist Amani Al Hawarin (programs presenter in Siraj radio station/ West Bank), Journalist Moin Tayseer al-Daba / Gaza Strip, Mahmoud El-Sherif / West Bank, Ihab Adas / Gaza, Freelance Photographer Hassan Aslih / Gaza, Al-Hadath Newspaper reporter Muthana Al-Najjar / Gaza, journalist Safinaz Al-Louh / Gaza, Journalist Jamal Younis / Gaza, the presenter of sports programs in Palestine sports TV and Al Quds radio in Gaza Alaa Salama, Mohammed Al-Amour, Mohammed Al-Louh, Ali Hirz Allah, Abdullah Hirz Allah, Ahmed Siam, Hani al-Shaer the voice of the prisoners reporter, Osama Labbad, Hussein Shujaia, Khamis Abu Hasira, Wael Abu Omar, director of the media gathering in Gaza Alaa Salama, Director of Al Ghad Channel in Gaza Ahmed Odeh, The reporter in Baldna channel Abdul Hamid Abdul Ati, Al-Aqsa TV correspondent Ismail Abu Omar, Al-Aqsa TV journalist Ahmad Qudeih, Chairman of the Youth Media Council Eyad Al-Qamra, the journalist in Palestine today Channel Reem Abu Hasira, the Journalist in the "Itihad Press" Hassan Shaheen, the Journalist Mahmoud El Sherif, Dr. Mahmoud Baroud, journalist Osama Kalhout, journalists Asraa Al-Buhaisi, Nour Al-Najjar, Yacoub Abu Glawa, journalist Hussein Khreis, journalists Rami Abu T’aima, Rami Al-Najjar, Sa’ed Abu Mohsen and Mohammed Al-Haddad, journalist Amal Al-Bahabsa, Writer Iyad Al-Qamra, Sami Hussein, Yasser Abdul Ghafour, Photographer Alaa Hamouda, Hammam Al-Hattab, Iyhab Fasfous, Anas Al-Sharif, Iyad Qadeeh, Iyad Abu Reda/ Al-Aqsa Radio, Farhan Abu Hadayed, Yasser Abu Ataara, Mohammed Kandil/ Masdar network, Mohammad Jouda/ Palestine today TV, Dr. Jawad Al-Dalu/ Faculty of Information, Islamic University, Dawood Abu al-Kas/ photographer of the Palestine Today Agency,  Dr. Adnan Abu Amer/ Writer and political analyst, Dr. Hassan Abu Hashish/ media professor at the Islamic University.

 

The campaign also included closing the pages of a group of activists on Facebook:

Osama Safadi, Mohammed Shukri, Maaz Ragab, Tarek Khalaf, writer Hossam El Dajny, artist Ali Nsman, writer Nisreen Mousa, Mohamed El Soury, Ashraf Abdel Gouda and Mazen Archie. This campaign also included closing the page of the the spokesman of the Ministry of Health in the Gaza Strip Dr. Ashraf Al-Qadra.

 

The closures, which were carried out without prior warning or explanation, included at least 58 pages of Palestinian journalists is an extension and translation of understandings reached by the Israeli government with Facebook about what the Israeli occupation state considers "incitement" against it or against its policies and army.

 

MADA Center denounces this campaign of closures. He believes that these closures are in the context of silencing the press and freedom of expression, In accordance with what media freedoms in Palestine is exposed to by the Israeli occupation authorities in particular, especially since hundreds of thousands of people follow these Pages. Therefore, "MADA" requires Facebook to re-launch the closed pages and stop such practices that are implemented away from any scrutiny or logical justification.