Twitter shuts down accounts of leading Palestinian news website

Twitter has suspended three accounts belonging to the leading Palestinian news website, Quds News Network.

Quds News Network (QNN) found the English account, the Arabic account, and the Breaking News account on Twitter suspended this morning without explanation.

Nisreen al-Khatib, co-director of QNN, tweeted that she was “helpless” following the ban.

“I am co-director of [QNN] & I find myself helpless as Twitter has today morning suspended 3 verified accounts of the network I work with, w/out offering reasons,” she said. “Quds News Network is an essential site for publishing the Palestinian content in Arabic & English to the world!”

QNN, which describes itself as “the largest and most viewed News network in Palestine,” was established in 2013. The network is followed by more than 7.8 million people on social media.

Last month the organisation was one of 59 website and social media accounts to be banned by the Palestinian Authority on the grounds they were threats to “national security and peace.”

Quds News Network

Ahmed Jarrar, co-director of QNN, told Middle East Eye last month that the organisation’s staff were frequently harassed by Israeli and PA security forces, including being prevented from covering protests as well as facing regular security checks. He described the decision to block the websites as a “massacre against the Palestinian media.”

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Palestinian activists now feel that there is a concerted campaign, influenced by Israel and its allies, to shut down pro Palestinian voices on social media networks.

Just last week Facebook deleted the page of a hugely influential Palestinian news site which described the move as part of a war on Palestinian content on social media networks.

The Palestinian Information Centre (PIC) said Facebook provided them with no prior warning before deleting the page, which had nearly five million followers, without any justification.

In a statement the PIC said: “Let’s be clear about this: Facebook is bowing to Israeli pressure. Israel itself had bragged that Facebook has positively responded to 90% of its complaints against Palestinian content.”

In its monthly report released a few days ago, Palestinian media monitoring centre Sada Social revealed that violations against Palestinian content dramatically increased during October.

The centre stated that Facebook topped the list of social media websites which practiced anti-Palestine violations. 145 Facebook violations were documented, including hundreds of blocks in addition to preventing Palestinian activists and journalists from using Facebook Live.

Several pages and accounts were also blocked, including the following pages: Huna Obeidiyyah, Madma Net, Bethlehem Journal, News of Palestine Universal Education, Allar Today, Rabi’a News Network, Quds News Channel, Halhoul Now, and Nawras Net.

The centre also documented four violations on YouTube, Twitter, and WhatsApp. The violations are: deleting a video from Huthaifa Jarrar YouTube channel, a warning to Al Quds Network on YouTube, removing the phone number of Omar Lababidi on WhatsApp, and deleting tweets of the Palestinian Information Center.

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