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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Facebook banned an ad about a Palestinian film for all users in Israel

'I really have trouble understanding how a film that depicts a feminist, civic, nonviolent struggle doesn’t meet the social network’s standards'

A still from 'Naila and the Uprising'. Photo / Dubai International Film Festival
A still from 'Naila and the Uprising'. Photo / Dubai International Film Festival

Facebook lifted its ban on the trailer for Julia Bacha’s 2017 documentary Naila and the Uprising on Thursday, just in time for the film’s debut Israel screening in Jaffa on Thursday night, and its subsequent online launch.

The Local Call, Hebrew language website, which is part-funded by the film’s co-producer Just Vision and had taken out the Facebook ad, received notice on Friday October 12 that its ad had been removed from the social networking giant for all users in Israel – although not the rest of the world – as it was not in line with Facebook’s guidelines, just hours after it had been taken out: “Your ad was not approved because it doesn’t conform to our advertising policy,” the message stated.

“We don’t allow advertising that includes shocking, derogatory or sensational content, including ads that depict violence or threats of violence.”

The film's trailer:

Local Call immediately appealed the ban, however no one from Facebook responded inside the site’s 48-hour period to hear appeals. In fact, no one from Facebook responded at all until the Israeli newspaper Haaretz contacted them on Thursday October 18, just hours before the film’s screening, at which point the ad finally received approval to run on the site.

It should be noted that Facebook did not actually ban the trailer, just the paid advertising that had been taken out for it, however the fact that Facebook deemed the ad as contravening its standards only inside Israel seems to set a worrying precedent in terms of double standards.

Julia Bacha, director of Naila and the Uprising. Courtesy Just Vision
Julia Bacha, director of Naila and the Uprising. Courtesy Just Vision

Yael Marom, Local Call’s co-editor, told Haaretz: “I really have trouble understanding how a film that depicts a feminist, civic, nonviolent struggle doesn’t meet the social network’s standards. What’s really sad is that instead of standing at the forefront of the battle for freedom of expression, an important platform like Facebook is generously applying the laws of censorship dictated by the right and the zeitgeist to itself.”

Naila and the Uprising tells the story of Palestinian activist Naila Ayesh’s personal struggle during the First Intifada. It received its world premiere at the DOC NYC Festival in November 2017, and debuted regionally at DIFF the following month with Ayesh among the audience.

The film still maintains a strong presence on the international festival circuit, with several screenings scheduled at festivals in the US and Europe during October and November this year.

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