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‘At such a precarious moment for Jewish communities … it would be irresponsible to reduce safety measures online,’ Jewish group says.

By Jessica Costescu, Washington Free Beacon

Meta’s oversight board is recommending the company loosen its standards regarding the glorification of terrorists. Under the board’s recommendation, Facebook and Instagram users can refer to terrorists as “shaheed,” an Arabic word for “martyr.”

The board released its recommendation Tuesday, calling Meta’s current policy “overbroad.” As of now, Facebook and Instagram posts that refer to “designated dangerous individuals”—such as Hamas terrorists—as “shaheed” are removed under a Meta policy that bars users from glorifying terrorists. Those posts would be allowed under the board’s recommended policy, so long as they do not include other “signals of violence,” such as an image of a weapon.

“Acts of terrorist violence have severe consequences—destroying the lives of innocent people, impeding human rights and undermining the fabric of our societies,” the board’s recommendation says. “However, any limitation on freedom of expression to prevent such violence must be necessary and proportionate, given that undue removal of content may be ineffective and even counterproductive.”

The move comes amid a spike in online anti-Semitism in the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel. Anti-Semitic posts increased 28 percent in the week after the attack, according to Anti-Defamation League (ADL), while such posts increased 919 percent on X, formerly Twitter. The difference between the two platforms suggests Facebook “enforced their hate speech policy more robustly and/or their content moderation tools were more effective at removing violative content,” the ADL found.

For the World Jewish Congress, the Meta oversight board’s recommendation is misguided.

“There must be no confusion as to where Meta stands when it comes to praise of terrorists, terror groups and acts of violence [on] its platforms,” the group’s technology director, Yfat Barak-Cheney, said in a Tuesday statement. “[A]t such a precarious moment for Jewish communities and many others around the world, it would be irresponsible to reduce safety measures online.”

Meta did not respond to a request for comment. Its oversight board consists of 40 “diverse” members, according to its website, and was created in 2018 to “bring accountability” to content moderation decisions.

The company pledged to respond to the board’s recommendation in 60 days. Meta has “committed to observing board rulings that apply to specific posts and users,” according to Axios.

For years, Hamas has used the term “shaheed” to glorify suicide bombers. In 2016, for example, it announced the “martyrdom of shaheed Abdel Hamid Abu Srour,” a teenaged boy who carried out a suicide bombing that targeted a bus in Jerusalem.

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