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'We won't be silenced': Meta removes Instagram accounts of pro-Palestine advocacy group

Pro-Palestinian activists have complained of suppression of speech since the war on Gaza began on 7 October
Protestors demonstrate near Columbia University in New York City, on 2 February 2024 (AFP)

Within Our Lifetime (WOL), a prominent pro-Palestinian advocacy group in New York City, had its main Instagram page, backup accounts, and founder’s account shut down on Friday.

“As Zionist forces continue their crackdown on Palestine online and in the streets, Instagram has permanently deleted both WOL & WOL chair Nerdeen Kiswani's main and backup accounts, with no option to appeal or request a review to restore them,” WOL wrote on X.

“But the more they try to silence us, the louder we will be.”

According to New York Jewish Week, a spokesperson for Meta told them that the accounts had been removed because they violated the platform’s community guidelines, including its “Dangerous Organizations & Individuals policy”.

Kiswani received a message from Meta saying that her accounts were removed because “Your account, or activity on it, doesn’t follow our Community Guidelines.”

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Middle East Eye reached out to Meta for comment but did not receive a response by the time of publication.

"Meta is telling us that we are banned from their platform because we as individuals, we as an organisation, are going against their policies. It makes it very clear that if we are standing against this genocide and we aren't allowed on this platform, that Instagram has taken a side," Abdullah Akl, an activist with WOL, told Middle East Eye.

"We will continue what we are doing. We will make it clear to the world that we will not be silenced. We will only be louder."

A December 2023 report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Meta, which runs Instagram and Facebook, is systematically censoring content about Palestine on their social networks. 

The 51-page report, “Meta’s Broken Promises: Systemic Censorship of Palestine Content on Instagram and Facebook,” released on Thursday by HRW, "documents a pattern of undue removal and suppression of protected speech including peaceful expression in support of Palestine and public debate about Palestinian human rights.

“Meta’s censorship of content in support of Palestine adds insult to injury at a time of unspeakable atrocities and repression already stifling Palestinians’ expression,” said Deborah Brown, acting associate technology and human rights director at HRW.

“Social media is an essential platform for people to bear witness and speak out against abuses while Meta’s censorship is furthering the erasure of Palestinians’ suffering,” added Brown. 

When Meta was accused of suppressing pro-Palestinian speech last year, Meta blamed technical bugs, claiming "this bug affected accounts equally around the globe and had nothing to do with the subject matter of the content - and we fixed it as quickly as possible".

But the Hampton Institute think tank accused Instagram and Facebook of "actively blocking posts about the *factual* history of Israel/Palestine."

MEE at the time asked Meta what steps were being taken to ensure access to Palestine-related content and whether the company was suppressing pro-Palestinian content, but was referred to a 13 October Newsroom Post

The statement said that Meta's policies are applied equally and that "there is no truth to the suggestion that we are deliberately suppressing voice".

Both Kiswani’s and WOL's Instagram accounts have been removed in the past but were always brought back. It is unclear if the removal of the accounts is permanent this time around. 


For the past few years, WOL has been organising protests and rallies across New York City to spread awareness of what they call Israel’s crimes. The activists are not afraid to call out politicians by name and often bring speakers who are directly affected by the war in Gaza.

These efforts heightened after 7 October when the war in Gaza broke out, when multiple protests were being organised every week - many of them organised within a day. 

The WOL Instagram page was an important way for the organisation to let people know about upcoming protests and demonstrations. 

On Monday night, activists held an emergency rally in Manhattan outside NewsCorp and eventually marched through a tunnel shouting for a "free Palestine".

The war on Gaza, which came in response to the 7 October Hamas-led attacks on southern Israel that killed 1,139 people and saw over 200 taken as captives back to Gaza, has resulted in Israel's military killing more than 28,000 Palestinians - the majority being women and children - while at least 65,000 have been wounded. 

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