Shortly after a surge in terror attacks against Israelis began in the autumn of 2015, the BBC News website produced a backgrounder titled “Is Palestinian-Israeli violence being driven by social media?”. As was noted here at the time, the backgrounder failed to provide audiences with the full range of information necessary for understanding of the role played by social media in spreading incitement.
“The question posed in its headline is addressed in a relatively small section of the report (fewer than 200 words) which actually does little to inform readers of the scale and significance of the role of incitement spread via social media in fueling the current wave of terror, of the kind of content appearing on such platforms or of the use of social media by official Palestinian groups other than Hamas – including Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.”
Neither did the backgrounder (or any other BBC report) inform audiences that both traditional and social media had also been used to promote incitement and glorification of terrorism long before that particular wave of violence began.
Since then, the BBC has made no further effort to provide its audiences with a realistic picture of incitement and glorification of terrorism by official Palestinian sources including the PA and Fatah, even when reporting on attempts to tackle such incitement. One BBC World Service radio programme even went so far as to tell listeners:
“And this is really the problem: narrative. With two completely opposing views on events, what Israelis see as inciting violence, the Palestinians see as telling the truth and vice versa.”
It therefore came as no surprise to see that the BBC did not bother to report the story of the recent closure of the official Fatah Facebook account.
“Facebook on Monday closed the official page of the Palestinian Authority’s ruling Fatah party amid a crackdown by the social media giant on Palestinian incitement.
In a statement on its Twitter account, Fatah, which is headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed that Facebook closed the account after it posted a historical picture of former Fatah leader Yasser Arafat holding a rifle, standing alongside Fatah leader Mahmoud al-Aloul.
The page, which had garnered over 70,000 likes, routinely posted material that glorified Palestinian terrorism and martyrdom. […]
Munir al-Jaghoub, who heads Fatah’s Information Department in the Office of Mobilization and Organization, wrote on his personal Facebook page that this was actually the second time the social media giant had closed Fatah’s account, but he did not specify when the first time was.”
The closure did not however last long:
“Three days ago, Facebook shut down Fatah’s terror promoting account. The Palestinian Authority protested the closure as evidence of unfair collaboration between Israel and Facebook against the Palestinians. Yesterday, Facebook reinstated the account, without removing any of the terror promoting material that is regularly posted on the page by Fatah. In 2016 alone, Palestinian Media Watch documented over 130 posts glorifying individual terrorist murderers and terror attacks, and posts encouraging violence and terror.”
Yet again the BBC has passed up an opportunity to inform its audiences on the gravely under-reported issue of the dissemination of incitement to violence and glorification of terrorism by official Palestinian bodies.