Meta expands policy to remove more posts attacking ‘Zionists’

Published: Updated:
Read Mode
100% Font Size
3 min read

Facebook and Instagram parent company Meta Platforms Inc. will start removing more posts that attack “Zionists” when the term is used to represent Jewish people or Israelis more generally.

Meta usually removes posts that attack a person based on a “protected characteristic,” such as their race, nationality or religion, though political affiliation doesn’t fall into that protected class. While Zionism is considered by many to be a political movement to establish a formal Jewish state in the Middle East, the company said that people are also using the term “Zionist” to refer to Jewish or Israeli people more broadly.

For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app.

“We will remove content attacking ‘Zionists’ when it is not explicitly about the political movement, but instead uses antisemitic stereotypes, or threatens other types of harm through intimidation, or violence directed against Jews or Israelis under the guise of attacking Zionists,” Meta wrote Tuesday in a blog post.

Meta previously considered the term “Zionist” as a proxy for Jewish people in very narrow or explicit cases, like if Zionists were compared to rats, according to the blog post. This change in policy expands what could be a violation to phrases where “Jew” or “Israeli” are not mentioned.

Use of “Zionists” on Meta’s services was more formally reviewed over the last several months, though the company has considered how best to police the term for the past three years, said Neil Potts, vice president of public policy for Meta. Potts and colleagues have consulted 145 “stakeholders” over the past three years, including academics and civil rights experts from around the world, to help decide how to address the term on its platforms. The company has also asked its external Oversight Board to weigh in on “how to treat comparisons between Zionists and criminals (e.g., ‘Zionists are war criminals’).”

Meta acknowledges that policing the new rule could be a challenge. “There is nothing approaching a global consensus on what people mean when they use the term ‘Zionist,’” according to the blog post. But Meta will remove posts when the term is calling for physical harm, dehumanizing Zionists by comparing them to animals or “filth,” or suggesting Zionists are “running the world or controlling the media.”

The expanded policy comes nine months after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing more than a thousand people and taking several hundred others hostage. The two sides are still at war, and Meta has made several policy changes in that time to cut down on posts showing violence from the attack or praising support for Hamas, which the US and European Union classify as a terrorist organization.

Read more:

Australian PM appoints top official to tackle antisemitism amid Gaza war

Meta restores Facebook posts by Malaysian media on PM Anwar’s meeting with Hamas

Meta slammed for removing Israel-Hamas war posts, urged to preserve evidence

Top Content Trending