Today, February 7th 2024, The Palestinian Digital Rights Coalition sent letters to Meta, X, Telegram, and TikTok regarding the proliferation of hate speech, dehumanization, and incitement to violence and genocide against the Palestinian people on their platforms.
On 26 January 2024, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered provisional measures in the case of South Africa v. Israel, determining the plausibility that Israel is carrying out genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza. The Palestinian coalition noted documented use of online platforms to incite genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, including by the highest levels of the Israeli leadership. The ICJ order presents a necessity to address the urgent need for online platforms to fulfil their legal and moral responsibility in upholding human rights and preventing the dissemination of harmful content, including incitement to commit genocide, within their domains.
The coalition's letter addresses the specific connection between hate speech, incitement to violence, and genocidal remarks online, which help perpetuate further the unfolding devastation in Gaza. Among other issues, the letter specifically calls attention to the ICJ’s reference to UN Bodies expressing concern over “discernibly genocidal and dehumanizing rhetoric coming from senior Israeli government officials, as well as some professional groups and public figures.” Many of these statements made by senior Israeli officials have been posted on social media platforms and companies continue to disseminate this type of harmful content on their platforms.
While platforms always have a significant role and responsibility to ensure the combating of hate speech and incitement online, this responsibility becomes even more paramount when there’s plausibility of genocide. Online platforms have previously been implicated in fueling genocidal violence online, such as in the cases of Myanmar and Ethiopia.
The failure to effectively address hate speech and incitement not only undermines the safety and well-being of the Palestinian people but also violates a company’s obligations under international law and human rights principles. As Palestinians in Gaza attempt to survive, the coalition felt it urgently important to remind social media companies of their legal and moral obligation to prioritize the protection of human rights and to take immediate and concrete steps to address and prevent the spread of harmful content, including hate speech and incitement.
View PDRC Letters: