Former Meta employee fired for ‘fixing suppression of pro-Palestine content’

Former Meta employee fired for ‘fixing suppression of pro-Palestine content’

The engineer alleged the company fired him for working on Motaz Azaiza's account despite knowing him personally when, in fact, he had no connection to him.
Updated 07 Jun, 2024

A former Meta engineer on Tuesday accused the company of bias in its handling of content related to the war in Gaza, claiming in a lawsuit that Meta fired him for trying to help fix bugs causing the suppression of Palestinian Instagram posts.

Ferras Hamad, a Palestinian-American engineer, who had been on Meta’s machine learning team since 2021, sued the social media giant in a California state court for discrimination, wrongful termination and other wrongdoing over his February dismissal.

In the complaint, Hamad accused Meta of a pattern of bias against Palestinians, saying the company deleted internal employee communications that mentioned the deaths of their relatives in Gaza and conducted investigations into their use of the Palestinian flag emoji.

The company launched no such investigations for employees posting Israeli or Ukrainian flag emojis in similar contexts, per the lawsuit.

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said Hamad was dismissed for violating the company’s “data access policies,” which set limits on what employees can do with different data.

Hamad’s claims reflect long-standing criticisms by human rights groups over Meta’s performance moderating the content posted to its platforms about Israel and the Palestinian territories, including in an external investigation the company commissioned in 2021.

The conflict escalated in Gaza after Hamas attacked Israel on Oct 7, killing 1,200 people and taking over 250 people hostage according to Israeli tallies. Israel in response launched an offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 36,000 people, according to Gaza health officials, and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

The company has since faced accusations of suppressing expressions of support for Palestinians. Nearly 200 Meta employees raised similar concerns in an open letter to Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and other leaders earlier this year.

Hamad said his firing appeared to stem from an incident in December involving an emergency procedure designed to troubleshoot severe problems with the company’s platforms, known within Meta as a SEV or “site event”.

He had noted procedural irregularities in the handling of an SEV related to restrictions on content posted by Palestinian Instagram personalities that prevented the posts from appearing in searches and feeds, the complaint said.

In one case, the complaint alleged, he found that a short video posted by Palestinian photojournalist Motaz Azaiza had been misclassified as pornographic even though it showed a destroyed building in Gaza.

Hamad said he received conflicting guidance from other employees about the status of the SEV and whether he was authorized to help resolve it. Before this, he had worked on similarly sensitive SEVs including ones related to Israel, Gaza and Ukraine.

His manager later confirmed in writing that the SEV was part of his job function. The next month, after a Meta representative told him he was the subject of an investigation, Hamad filed an internal discrimination complaint and days later was fired, he said.

Hamad said Meta told him he was fired for violating a policy barring employees from working on issues with accounts of people they know personally, referring to Azaiza, the photojournalist. Hamad said he had no personal connection to Azaiza.

Meta declined to comment on Hamad’s claims about the grounds for his firing and what its data access policies specifically prohibit.


Dr. Salaria, Aamir Ahmad Jun 06, 2024 03:59pm
Tip of the iceberg.
Naeem Jun 06, 2024 04:30pm
Such incidents will further deter companies from hiring Muslim employees. Protesting should be kept as a private endeavor.
S.A Jun 06, 2024 04:53pm
@Naeem Well it's about time that Muslims realized that they don't necessarily have to work for such companies, where their basic beliefs are suppressed! If one can't stand for humanity while working for a company, do you think that company is worth working for at all?
Asad Jun 06, 2024 08:02pm
Meta controlled by zionist
Sheikh Khalid Jun 07, 2024 09:27am
Wow! Now bugs are running Meta!!! I can smell a: Misrepresentation( Misrepresentation( Misrepresentation( Meta( Internal( Memo)))); Function always returns Null. Function is defined in: Tall_Header.h Even in the best times in Racism.