Facebook prohibits the word ‘Palestinian’

on 31 Comments

The folks at Palestinian Refugee ResearchNet thought they’d create a Facebook page only to discover: Facebook blocks the term “Palestinian”! (H/t Jillian C York.)

Are Palestinians the only group so blocked from making pages? Well, not really… after a little fiddling around, I discovered that al-Qaida Refugee ResearchNet and Nazi Refugee ResearchNet are filtered too.

It does seem a bit odd, however, that a population of up to 12 million people, receiving more than a billion dollars in international aid, recognized by the UN, and enjoying a degree of formal diplomatic recognition from the United States — is placed in the same filtered category as Nazis and al-Qaida.

I’ve sent an email to Facebook customer service—we’ll see what they say.

Just to be sure, I tried myself to create a “Palestinian sports” page — not allowed.

Update – It seems the issue has been resolved. According to York’s blog:

As of July 26 at 8:17 DST, I can now create pages with the word “Palestinian” in them. Congrats–all of your contact messages to Facebook clearly worked.

31 Responses

  1. bob
    July 25, 2010, 3:20 pm

    I wonder if well ever see who is responsible for that once they issue a retraction.

  2. Citizen
    July 25, 2010, 3:22 pm

    Why is that not surprising? Keep us posted Paul. We’re waiting to see
    how Facebook customer service explains the ban to you.

    • Citizen
      July 25, 2010, 3:32 pm

      Two Jewish Americans own 24 & 6 % of Facebook respectively; the other shareholders each hold way less. Maybe they just don’t like the word Palestinian? Try MySpace? Wait, that’s basically under Murdoch’s control.

      • MRW
        July 25, 2010, 9:14 pm

        Wait until the end of the summer when the joindiaspora.com group should be finished.

      • Hostage
        July 26, 2010, 5:39 am

        Google, Facebook, and Wikipedia enjoy safe harbor immunities that were originally intended for ISPs and common carriers. There have been a number of Justice Department EEOC lawsuits that involved discrimination against persons of Palestinian national origin. It is definitely a federally protected characteristic. e.g. EEOC FILES POST-9/11 NATIONAL ORIGIN DISCRIMINATION SUIT

        I think that the Communications Act forbids common carriers and ISPs from discriminating against persons or groups on the basis of any federally protected characteristic. That statute might be susceptible to novel applications;-)

        The historical basis of Palestinian nationality in international law was article 30 of the Treaty of Lausanne. The US was one of the contracting states. A year after the Anglo-American Palestine Mandate Convention of 1925 was concluded, the President established a nationality quota to facilitate immigration from British Palestine. In 1932, the United States recognized Palestine as a separate foreign state with respect to the operation of the most favored nation provisions in treaties of commerce. See for example Kletter v Dulles the United States District Court, District of Colombia in International Law Reports, Volume 20, Editors Elihu Lauterpacht, Hersch Lauterpacht, Cambridge UP, 1957, ISBN 0521463653, page 254.

      • tommy
        July 26, 2010, 11:30 am

        Israeli nationalism is more important than American citizenship and human rights for a few Americans.

      • slagbom
        July 27, 2010, 12:06 am

        This is just like a stormfront thread I just read. Interesting.

  3. Avi
    July 25, 2010, 3:31 pm

    Have you tried creating a “Zionist Israeli Jews who use the Holocaust to blackmail wealthy nations” page?

    I don’t foresee a problem.

    • James
      July 25, 2010, 5:29 pm

      lol… it will get past the word triggers anyway, until they see what it is!

      • slagbom
        July 27, 2010, 12:05 am

        You guys are funny. Yuck it up. I can’t vouch for you, but a number of white supremacist groups are abuzz with this article and how the Jews are behind it.

        The Palestinians can do no wrong right comrade?

  4. Bandolero
    July 25, 2010, 3:36 pm

    Maybe this nzherald article is interesting regarding the agenda of facebook. Quote:

    The second round of funding into Facebook ($US12.7 million) came from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. One of the company’s key areas of expertise are in “data mining technologies”.

    It’s an interesting article, I think, worth a read. Though, one shall know, later and more Venture Capital came from Russia. Of course, this excerpt just speaks of data mining, so influencing public opinion by preventing Palestinian groups to be created, would not be included. But influencing public opinion by a spy organisation set up to spy foreign countries is, to say the least, regarded as highly immoral – if not plainly illegal. So if the agency does it, they would likely not announce it.

    Nevertheless influencing public opinion was done by the CIA in the past in various cases – as history shows us. Those interested in that part of history may just google for “Operation Mockingbird” and “MHCHAOS”.

    And as we know, that Israel is a special ally of the US, who knows whats done today.

    • potsherd
      July 25, 2010, 4:25 pm

      The official position of the US is to support the creation of a Palestinian state.

      • James
        July 25, 2010, 5:32 pm

        yes, but the usa is a rogue nation ! many folks just don’t seem to have woken up to this yet…

  5. LittleJoe
    July 25, 2010, 3:46 pm
  6. bijou
    July 25, 2010, 4:05 pm

    Palestine, however, seems to be allowed.

  7. jawad
    July 25, 2010, 4:15 pm

    She is Jillian York. Not Cork.

    And Facebook allows groups with horrible “P” word in the name, but not pages.

    • worker ant
      July 25, 2010, 10:31 pm

      Not so, here is a PAGE with “Palestinian” in the title:

      link to facebook.com

      • tree
        July 26, 2010, 12:56 am

        according to York and others the filter against “Palestinian” appears to be a recent one. Multiple users have tried and failed to create a page with the word “Palestinian” in it.

        Paul Woodward’s comment from Jillian York’s website:

        I tried this with variants on “… sports”. “Zionist sports” was accepted, as was “Kurdish sports” — only “Palestinian sports” got blocked. “Palestine sports” was ok. The block seems to be specifically on “Palestinian”. The grammatically incorrect “Palestinians sports” was ok.

        So, one, the block is recent, as there are older pages with “Palestinian” in the title. And, two, the block is specific to “Palestinian”, as “Palestine” and “Palestinians” are not blocked similarly.

  8. joer
    July 25, 2010, 4:18 pm

    I just did a search for Palestinian on Facebook and I got over 500 results. Actually, it looks like a pretty good resource with groups from everything from politics to food and culture if you like Facebook. Personally, it drives me crazy…too much endless wandering and then I get these requests for Farmville gifts from people from my distant past who friended me.
    I don’t know what the problem was in this case. Maybe there is some kind of censorship or maybe there was already a group with that name or something like that.

  9. jawad
    July 25, 2010, 4:23 pm

    GROUPS allowed
    PAGES not allowed

  10. James
    July 25, 2010, 5:27 pm

    wonder if it has anything to do with who owns flake, or crackbook?

  11. Kathleen
    July 25, 2010, 5:40 pm

    Who owns facebook?

  12. hughsansom
    July 25, 2010, 8:25 pm

    I was able to create a group called “Life in Palestine” so whoever did this wasn’t thinking very coherently.

    • worker ant
      July 25, 2010, 10:29 pm

      Yep, tons of PAGES with the word Palestine in the title. I wonder what’s up with that.

    • VR
      July 25, 2010, 11:28 pm

      This could be the beginning of a process to “stem the tide?”

  13. hayate
    July 26, 2010, 1:41 am

    Short and to the point:

    Facebook – CIA Profile Database

    link to youtube.com

    You essentially volunteer to hand over the contents of your computer to the mossad/cia once you let these guys store cookies on your computer.

  14. unverified__2a49g05b
    July 26, 2010, 11:04 am

    posted by Hu Bris:
    having mulled over this for a little while, to me it appears probable (this is all conjecture on my part) that FB has algorithms in place to automatically identify new words or phrases which people might suddenly begin to consider as ‘racist/offensive’ etc.

    Given that these algorithms would be fully-computerised, and therefore not necessarily needing any human oversight in order for them to be activated on the FB-servers, it is possible that the ‘glitch’ is not a ‘glitch’ but rather a result of Israeli-supporters ‘gaming’ the system, through a coordinated campaign, starting Friday, of flooding the system by en masse falsely flagging the word ‘Palestinian’ as ‘objectionable’.

    If programmed using a ‘precautionary’ principle (better to censor immediately and check later if that censorship was valid/warranted, rather than risk causing wide-spread ‘offense’ for a time, until humans actually validate/invalidate the charge of ‘offensive’ ) the computers would notice this and automatically prohibit page-titles with reference to the new word now being mass-fagged as ‘offensive.’

    Whatever human oversight of these procedures which exists at FB might only kick in if enough people complained about the automated-algorithms suddenly starting to censor/prohibit completely valid page names.

    Since this appeared to start over the weekend it is possible/likely(?) that the problem of a concerted Israeli campaign to falsely flag the word ‘Palestinian’ as ‘offensive’ was not noticed and not corrected until today (Monday) because the people with the power to correct it had simply gone home for the weekend.

  15. slagbom
    July 27, 2010, 12:03 am


    *Shakes fist*

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