Facebook sets up ‘special operations center’ for content on Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Facebook has set up a “special operations center” to monitor content on its platforms about the escalating Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a company executive said Wednesday. 

The special operations center has 24-hour capabilities and includes native Arabic and Hebrew speakers to help Facebook identify content that violates its policies, as well as restore content that was removed in error, Facebook’s vice president of content policy, Monika Bickert, told reporters on a call. 

The special operations center, formalized last week, includes members of Facebook’s content review and content policy teams and puts them in regular contact with each other to help spot and respond to the “changing landscape,” Bickert said. 

Similar operations have been set up in the past for situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the wildfires in California and elections in the U.S. and Brazil, the executive said. 

The operation will go on “as long as necessary” and the company will be “looking to the situation on the ground” to inform its decisions, Bickert said. 

Amid the ongoing violence, which has resulted in the deaths of dozens of civilians including children, Facebook executives met virtually with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz last week, a Facebook spokesperson said. 

Facebook’s vice president for global affairs and communications, Nick Clegg, also met with the prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority, Mohammad Shtayyeh, on Wednesday, according to Facebook and the prime minister’s office. 

Social media platforms, including Facebook and its messaging platform WhatsApp, have been identified as spreading posts with misinformation about the hostile situation. According to an analysis by The New York Times, false information has been spread on the social media platforms and shared thousands of times. 

President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he expects a “significant de-escalation” in violence between Israel and Hamas by Wednesday to put the two sides “on the path to a ceasefire,” according to a readout of the leaders’ Wednesday morning call released by the White House.

However, Netanyahu reportedly said after a visit to military headquarters that while he “greatly appreciates the support of the American president,” Israel will push ahead to “return the calm and security to you, citizens of Israel.”

Netanyahu said he is “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met,” according to The Associated Press

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Facebook Israel Israel-Palestinian conflict Joe Biden misinformation Palestine Social media

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