The Real-World Impact of Online Incitement on Palestinians and Other Vulnerable Communities

Itxaso Domínguez de Olazábal is the EU Advocacy Officer at 7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to defending Palestinian digital rights. A truck burnt in violence in Huwara, February 26, 2023. Wikimedia CC BY-SA 4.0 The power of social media to enable communication and expression cannot be underestimated. However, with this power comes responsibility, especially concerning the moderation of content that promotes violence, hatred, and discrimination, particularly in contexts of conflict and crises, such as the decades-long illegal occupation of Palestinian territory. A recent spate of violence in the northern West Bank village of Huwara permitted us to study the dangerous repercussions of under-moderating hateful social media content, focusing on Twitter (now known as X) as a case study. The research uncovers a disturbing correlation between online rhetoric and real-world harm affecting Palestinian people and other vulnerable communities worldwide, with devastating consequences. Twitter’s Under-Moderation of Hateful Israeli Hebrew Content Violence in the occupied Palestinian territory, particularly incidents of settler-led attacks against civilians, has reached alarming levels lately. While the number and density of Israeli settlements, constituting a violation of international law, keep growing, levels of Israeli settler violence rise in a climate of impunity. Palestinians are subject to the repression of the Israeli army and now have to face a notable increase in incidents involving Israeli settlers perpetrating acts of violence, which encompass violent threats, assaults and destruction of property. In February of this year, violence flared between Israeli settlers and Palestinian…The Real-World Impact of Online Incitement on Palestinians and Other Vulnerable Communities