A well-known Palestinian activist critical of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says that Facebook has taken down his page, which had approximately 998,000 followers.
Fadi Elsalameen said on Monday that Facebook unpublished his page in late September, but did not inform him why it made the move.
Elsalameen, 35, is originally from as-Samu, a village south of Hebron, but he currently lives in Washington, DC. He has been accused of being close to exiled Fatah member and Abbas rival Mohammed Dahlan, but he has adamantly denied the claim.
“The page criticized corruption in the Palestinian Authority and freedom of speech violations against Palestinians,” Elsalameen told The Times of Israel in a phone interview. “The page also asked critical questions: Why have we not had presidential elections in 15 years? Why do young people and women not have a greater role in politics?”
A Fatah official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, contended that the page had consistently made false allegations against Palestinian officials.
“He has made many fabricated claims on his page, which have been very damaging to lots of people,” the official charged. “I am also certain that he is not running the page on his own. I know that there are other people using him to advance their goals.”
Several other Fatah and PA officials declined to comment.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company was looking into what happened to the page.
Elsalameen denied that his posts violated Facebook’s community standards.
Facebook’s website provides a list of reasons why it may unpublish or put limits on its users’ pages. It says some of them include promoting hate speech, sharing spam and posting misleading content.
He added that before Facebook shut down his page, three posts he made were removed and then restored.
“It was very bizarre. For example, one of the posts dealt with a Sky News article about Saudi authorities arresting a man who beat his child,” he asserted. “I appealed the removal of these posts and then Facebook restored them and apologized to me.”
He said the social media giant later blocked the page for 30 days before entirely unpublishing it on September 30.
A screenshot that he shared with The Times of Israel shows a message that he said he sees when he attempts to log into his account: “Your page has been unpublished. You appealed this decision Monday, September 30, 2019 at 8:12AM.”
A teacher in Hebron said Elsalemeen’s page was widely followed by many in the West Bank.
“Almost everyone here who goes on Facebook knows it,” the teacher, 35, who asked to remain unnamed, said.
Elsalameen also said that he has hired a lawyer in the US in an effort to restore the page and has personally reached out to Katie Harbath, a senior Facebook employee based in Washington, DC, about it, but has not received a response from her.