Report: Facebook Suffers Reputation Crisis in Arab Countries

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives for the 8th annual Breakthrough Prize awards ceremony at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California on November 3, 2019. (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)
JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images

In a recent article, NBC News confirms previous reports that Facebook is dealing with a major reputation crisis in the Middle East, resulting in plummeting approval rates and advertising sales in Arab countries.

In an article titled “Facebook Battles Reputation Crisis in the Middle East,” NBC News states that leaked documents show social media giant Facebook is dealing with a major reputation crisis in the Middle East. The company is facing plummeting approval rates and advertising sales in Arab countries as employees begin to worry about the reputation of the Silicon Valley giant.

Breitbart News previously reported that earlier this month a Facebook software engineer from Egypt wrote an open note to his colleagues warning: “Facebook is losing trust among Arab users.” Facebook has previously been championed as a useful tool for sharing information in Arab countries where government censorship amidst protests was common, the software engineer specifically pointed to the Arab Spring of 2011 as an example of this.

Now, NBC News reports that other pro-Palestine employees at the firm are claiming that censorship of Arab content is becoming more widespread on the platform. NBC News writes:

The shift corresponds with the widespread belief by pro-Palestinian and free speech activists that the social media company has been disproportionately silencing Palestinian voices on its apps – which include Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp – during this month’s Israel-Hamas conflict. Examples include the deletion of hundreds of posts condemning the eviction of Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem, the suspension of activist accounts and the temporary blocking of a hashtag relating to one of Islam’s holiest mosques. Facebook said these were technical glitches.

Internal documents connect the reputational damage to a decline in advertising sales in the Middle East. According to the leaked presentation, Facebook’s ad sales in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Iraq dropped at least 12 percent in the 10 days after May 7.

“In addition to the negative sentiment towards Facebook in MENA now, the regression could also be attributed to the overall charged environment where some brands might find it insensitive to advertise or won’t be getting the usual ROI when spending their money,” Facebook noted in a presentation deck on the topic, referring to the return on investment.

Despite a widespread perception of censorship towards Palestinian voices, Facebook ash reportedly been unable to identify any “ongoing systemic issues,” with it automated content removal tools or human moderators, according to a post to Facebook’s internal message board by the company’s risk and response team.

Read more at NBC News here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address lucasnolan@protonmail.com

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