Ex-Meta engineer sues company, claiming he was fired over handling of Palestine content


Ferras Hamad, who used to be an engineer working with Meta’s machine learning team, has accused the company of firing him over his handling of Palestine-related Instagram posts in a lawsuit. According to Reuters, he is accusing the company of discrimination, wrongful termination and showing a pattern of bias against Palestinians. Hamad said he noted procedural irregularities on how the company handled restrictions on content from Palestinian Instagram personalities, which prevented them from appearing in feeds and searches. One particular case that involved a short video showing a destroyed building in Gaza seemingly led to his dismissal in February.

Hamad discovered that the video, which was taken by Palestinian photojournalist Motaz Azaiza, was misclassified as pornographic. He said he received conflicting guidance on whether he was authorized to help resolve the issue but was eventually told in writing that helping troubleshoot it was part of his tasks. A month later, though, Hamad was reportedly notified that he was the subject of an investigation. He filed an internal discrimination complaint in response, but he was fired days later and was told that it was because he violated a policy that prohibits employees from working on issues involving accounts of people they personally know. Hamad, who is Palestinian-American, has denied that he personally knew Azaiza.

In addition to detailing the events that led to his firing in the lawsuit, Hamad also accused the company of deleting internal communication between employees talking about deaths of their relatives in Gaza. Employees that use the Palestinian flag emoji were investigated, as well, whereas those who’ve previously posted the Israeli or the Ukrainian flags in similar contexts weren’t subjected to the same scrutiny.

Meta has been accused of suppressing posts that support Palestine even before the October 7 Hamas attacks against Israel. Late last year, Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote Mark Zuckerberg a letter raising concerns about how numerous Instagram users were accusing the company of “shadowbanning” them for posting about the conditions in Gaza. Meta’s Oversight Board ruled last year that the company’s tools mistakenly removed a video posted on Instagram showing the aftermath of a strike on the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza during Israel’s ground offensive. More recently, the board opened an investigation to review cases involving Facebook posts that used the phrase “from the river to the sea.” We’ve asked Meta for a statement on Hamad’s lawsuit, and we’ll update this post when we hear back.



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