Waving a large Palestinian flag and holding signs reading “Stop censoring our movement,” some 15 protesters gathered outside of Mark Zuckerberg’s San Francisco house on Friday to protest Facebook’s temporary suspension of social media accounts that belong to Palestinian journalists.
Nick Pardee, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, which put the protest together said the suspension of Palestinian accounts showed a pro-Israel bias. Accounts in Israel, including those of government officials, are not removed despite inciting violence against Palestine, he said.
“These people are genocidal, and Mark Zuckerberg has no interest in censoring them,” he said.
In September, Facebook shut down the accounts of seven editors and executives for daily news agencies in Gaza and the West Bank for violating Facebook’s “community standards.” A spokesperson for the company said content on these accounts had been removed in “error.”
“Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong,” the spokesperson said, adding that the accounts were restored. “We’re very sorry about this mistake.”
Pardee and others were skeptical, saying Palestinian journalist face dangers at the hands of Israel and deserved an open platform on which to publish.
“Palestinian activists and journalists are being detained and jailed for pre-crime, for exposing the truth about what’s happening with the illegal Israeli occupation,” said Pardee.
On Friday, cars carrying passengers with Uber and Lyft slowed down to stare at the small group, as protesters chanted “Zuckerberg, Zuckerberg you can’t hide, you can’t hide the genocide” through a bullhorn. The driver of one car honked in support.
— Joe Rivano Barros (@jrivanob) October 8, 2016
Eight police officers stood a block away watching the scene, but only approached the group once to ask how much longer the action would take, since the sound system was bothering neighbors.
Protesters frequently strayed from the topic of Palestinian censorship, connecting Facebook to corporatism and imperialism. The topics of protest — from American-Israeli cooperation to the so-called Twitter tax break — were connected to “American capitalism,” they said.
They also called Zuckerberg “the face of gentrification,” saying tech companies were not giving enough back to the communities they have impacted.
“You thought you could plan your flag here for Facebook, in the middle of the Mission, where people are being gentrified,” said Gloria La Riva, the presidential candidate of the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
La Riva said tech companies were getting “tax breaks while people are being evicted” from the city government and warned of the corporate takeover of politics before protesting what she called American imperialism and the surveillance state.
Neighbors were mostly bemused. Some watched from windows across the street, cracking them open to hear the chants. A few stopped and took photos and video of the protest before going back inside their homes. Other passers-by stopped and chatted.
“Did you see ‘The Social Network?’” asked Lotus Yee Fong, a local resident. “Yeah, what a jerk.”
Fong also said Zuckerberg naming San Francisco General Hospital after himself — after donating $75 million to it — was arrogance, and put a finger down her throat in a sign of disgust.
Kip Craig, who lives across the street from Zuckerberg, came out of his house and thanked the group. He said the protesters had the right to chant on his street and express their opinion. In fact, he said, the group was preferable to the largely-absent Facebook founder.
“They’re welcome to be here,” he said, “because Zuckerberg never is.”