Facebook recently apologized for disabling the personal social media accounts of a few executives and editor of two major Palestinian news outlets.
The social media company says that it suspended the accounts after reports arrived stating that the pages were violating Facebook's community standards. However, the news outlets believe that the incident has to do with Israel's increased dedication to curbing online incitement to violence.
Al Jazeera reports that three execs from Quds News Network and four editors with the Shehab News Agency were unable to access their personal accounts as Facebook hit them with the banhammer on Sept. 23.
Both Quds and Shehab report on daily news from the occupied Palestinian territories, and their Facebook pages count 5.1 million and 6.3 million likes, respectively.
"[Sharek-Quds News Agency] does not publish anything that violates Facebook standards," says Nisreen Al-Khatib, a journalist with Quds News Network.
She goes on to add that her news agency still gets targeted, despite complying with Facebook's norms and regulations.
The Quds editors received no explanation for the suspensions, but they assume that the action was connected to a recent partnership between Israel and Facebook that aims to limit violence-enticing content on the platform.
Palestinians chastised Israel for its social media policing initiative, pointing out that street violence does not start from online incitement, but from the almost 50 years of military occupation.
Activist groups highlighted that by playing along Israel's silencing policy, Facebook puts a damper on Palestinians' freedom of speech.
On Sept. 25, the Israeli military said that it identified and indicted 145 Palestinians who were inciting violence over social media.
Ayelet Shaked, the Israeli Justice Minister, stated earlier in September that her government urged Facebook to take out 158 pieces of content labeled as "incitement." The company cooperated and agreed to 95 percent of the requests.
The social media company, alongside other enterprises such as Twitter and Google, is in talks with authorities in the European Union and the United States to act promptly so that any extremist content belonging to far-right groups or terrorist organizations is swiftly removed.
Facebook unlocked the accounts of editors from Shehab and execs from Quds, and explained that the suspensions were "a mistake."
"The pages were removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate," a Facebook spokesperson says.
The company notes that its report team has gone through "millions of reports each week," which leads to false flagging. Facebook continues by stating that it is "very sorry" about the situation.
Facebook did not go into details about which community standards caused it to crack down on the accounts.
In a digital protest against Facebook's cooperation with Israel and subsequent censorship, journalists from Quds boycotted the social media site by abstaining from posting content on it for two hours.
The protest carried the hashtag #FBCensorsPalestine.