Meta Faces Lawsuit from Palestinian-American Engineer Over Alleged Discrimination and Censorship

A Palestinian-American software engineer, Ferras Hamad, has sued Meta, accusing the company of discrimination and wrongful termination. Hamad claims he was fired in retaliation for investigating allegations that Meta censored Palestinian/Gaza creators and activists.

Hamad's lawsuit asserts he was targeted due to his Palestinian national origin and Muslim faith. He contends that his investigation into censorship was part of his job duties. Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, counters that Hamad was dismissed for violating data access policies.

These policies set strict limits on employee access to certain data, with breaches leading to immediate termination. Hamad's lawyers argue he did not violate any policies. They assert he was fulfilling his role when he investigated the alleged censorship of Palestinian content.

Hamad joined Meta in March 2022, working on machine learning and location-based recommendations. He regularly addressed user issues on Facebook and Instagram. In December, he flagged problems in an internal chat about Gaza-related user concerns. This included the misclassification of a video by Palestinian photojournalist Motaz Azaiza (known for covering the Hamas-Israel war) as "pornographic," which led to Azaiza's Instagram account being restricted.

The lawsuit states Hamad received conflicting instructions from Meta employees about his investigations. Some told him to stop, citing resolution or other teams handling the matter. After returning from vacation, Hamad was fired in February, just weeks before he was due to receive stock and his annual bonus. His attorneys claim this caused significant financial and professional harm.

Hamad's case reflects broader concerns from human rights advocates about Meta's treatment of content related to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Human Rights Watch reported in December 2023 that Meta systematically suppressed pro-Palestinian voices globally. Meta's Oversight Board also noted overbroad takedowns of content using Arabic terms related to the conflict.

Meta defends its content moderation practices, citing the challenges of managing vast amounts of content during polarized conflicts. However, Hamad's lawsuit suggests potential bias in how Meta handles Palestinian-related posts compared to other conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine war.

Filed in Santa Clara County, California, this lawsuit highlights ongoing debates about social media platforms' roles in moderating political content and the biases that may influence their policies and actions.

Hamad's lawyers argue he didn't breach policies, was fulfilling job duties by investigating alleged censorship.
Image: DIW-Aigen

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