Antisemitism watchdog wants Meta to keep ban on term ‘shaheed’

Cnaan Lidor is The Times of Israel's Jewish World reporter

The Meta (formerly Facebook) logo marks the entrance of corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on November 9, 2022. (Josh Edelson/AFP)
The Meta (formerly Facebook) logo marks the entrance of corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on November 9, 2022. (Josh Edelson/AFP)

A prominent watchdog on antisemitism condemns the recommendation by the oversight board of Meta Platforms to allow the Arab-language term shaheed, or martyr, to be used on Facebook, Instagram and other platforms.

“The word Shaheed is an honorific term for murderers. The recommendation by Meta’s Oversight Board could be seen as giving a green light for the glorification of murder,” Sacha Roytman Dratwa, the CEO of the Combat Antisemitism Movement, says in a statement.

The statement follows the recommendation two days ago by the board at Meta Platforms, the company owns and operates Facebook and Instagram, among other services, to drop the ban on the term following a yearlong review.

At present, Meta removes any posts using “shaheed” in referring to people it designates on its list of “dangerous organizations and individuals,” which includes members of Islamist terrorist organizations.

“We call on Meta to disregard this deeply problematic recommendation and continue to remove the word shaheed which is overwhelmingly used to glorify terror and bloodshed, Roytman Dratwa says.

“Meta has been operating under the assumption that censorship can and will improve safety, but the evidence suggests that censorship can marginalize whole populations while not improving safety at all,” Oversight Board co-chair Helle Thorning-Schmidt says in a statement.

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