HomeTech Palestinian-American engineer accuses Meta of firing him over Gaza content

Palestinian-American engineer accuses Meta of firing him over Gaza content

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Palestinian-American engineer accuses Meta of firing him over Gaza content

A former Meta engineer on Tuesday accused the company of discrimination in its handling of content related to the war in Gaza, alleging in a lawsuit that Meta fired him for trying to help correct errors that caused the removal of Palestinian posts on Instagram.

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

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

According to the lawsuit, the company did not initiate such investigations for employees who posted emojis of Israeli or Ukrainian flags in similar contexts. Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Hamad’s allegations.

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

Since the outbreak of war last year, the company has faced accusations that was suppressing expressions of support for Palestinians living in the midst of war. The conflict erupted in Gaza after Hamas militants attacked inside Israel on October 7, killing nearly 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostage, according to Israeli counts. Israel then launched a Gaza offensive That has killed more than 36,000 people, according to Gaza health officials, and triggered a humanitarian crisis.

Nearly 200 Meta employees raised similar concerns in an open letter to CEO 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 fix serious 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 personalities on Instagram that prevented the posts from appearing in searches and feeds, according to the complaint.

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

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Hamad said he received conflicting guidance from other employees about the status of the SEV and whether he was authorized to help resolve it, although he had previously worked on similar sensitive SEVs, including those related to Israel, Gaza and Ukraine. His boss later confirmed in writing that the SEV was part of his job function, he said.

The following month, after a Meta representative told him he was the subject of an investigation, Hamad filed an internal discrimination complaint and was fired days later, he said.

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

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