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

Tech giant says the social media posts were removed in error; Malaysian leader met Palestinian terror group chief in Qatar

Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim speaks at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha on May 14, 2024. (Karim JAAFAR / AFP)
Malaysia's Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim speaks at the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha on May 14, 2024. (Karim JAAFAR / AFP)

KUALA LUMPUR – Meta Platforms has restored Facebook posts by Malaysian media covering Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s meeting this week with a Hamas leader, saying they were removed in error.

The removal had drawn complaints from Malaysia’s government, a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause and which has warned that firm action could be taken against Meta and other social media companies if they were blocking what they refer to as “pro-Palestinian content” on their platforms.

Anwar met Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in Qatar on Monday. He later stressed that though he had good relations with the group’s political leaders, he had no involvement in the terror group’s military apparatus.

Muslim-majority Malaysia had sent a letter asking Meta to explain the taking down of posts by two media organizations about the meeting, as well as the closure of a Facebook account last month belonging to a third outlet, the Malaysia Gazette, which covers Palestinian issues.

“Two posts were removed in error and have now been restored,” a Meta spokesperson said in an email to Reuters.

Communications Minister Fahmi Fadzil, who is also the government’s spokesperson, condemned the removal of the posts on Wednesday, accusing US organizations of not respecting the freedom of media outlets.

The Malaysia Gazette said on Wednesday that its appeal to Facebook to reactivate the account had been accepted and is now operational again.

Malaysia has long advocated a two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, Ibrahim has been accused of making antisemitic remarks, including alleging while opposition leader that Mossad spies were controlling the Malaysian government and that Jews controlled a public relations firm hired by then-prime minister Najib Razak.

Ismail Haniyeh, the Doha-based political bureau chief of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, speaks on a televised speech on the occasion of Quds (Jerusalem) Day on April 3, 2024. (Hamas Media Office/AFP)

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad notoriously said he was glad to be called antisemitic, and alleged that “hook-nosed” Jews run the world.

Meta has said it does not deliberately suppress voices on its Facebook platform, adding there was “no truth” to the claim it was restricting content supporting the Palestinians.

Meta designates Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that governs Gaza, as a “dangerous organization” and bans content praising the terror group that carried out the devastating October 7 onslaught that killed some 1,200 people and saw another 252 taken hostage.

Meta also uses a mix of automated detection and human review to remove or label graphic visuals.

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