Meta to lift its ban on the word ‘shaheed’


Meta to lift its ban on the word ‘shaheed’

Meta Platforms is lifting its ban on the word “shaheed” (or “martyr” in English), after a year-long review by its oversight board. This comes on the heels of criticism directed at the social media giant’s approach which was found little “overbroad”.



The company has been criticized for years over its handling of content involving the Middle East, including in a 2021 study Meta itself commissioned that found its approach had an “adverse human rights impact” on Palestinians and other Arabic-speaking users of its services. These criticisms have escalated since the onset of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in October.



The oversight board, which is funded by Meta but operates independently, started its review last year. They were of the opinion that the word accounted for more content removals on the company’s platforms than any other single word or phrase.



Meta acknowledged the findings of the review and said its tests showed that removing content when “shaheed” was “paired with otherwise violating content captures the most potentially harmful content without disproportionately impacting the voice”.



The oversight board welcomed the change, saying Meta’s policy related to the word had led to the censoring of millions of people across its platforms.

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