Following the deliberate removal and blocking of posts supporting Palestinians by the company Meta, users of the Telegram platform were surprised to find that groups and channels related to Palestinian internal news had disappeared. This followed the announcement of Hamas‘s release of two hostages late on Monday.
The platform issued a clarification for all affected users, revealing that the platform had blocked those information sources, according to Al-24. As of now, no official statement has been issued regarding the reason for this disappearance.
Telegram, a platform somewhat similar to WhatsApp but with fewer technological constraints, has become a preferred means of communication for both the Israeli army and hamas . Since October 7th, it has been used by both sides and their supporters to distribute videos and news without any content supervision, some of which includes horrifying scenes. This has made it the preferred communication channel for both warring factions to escape the censorship on other social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
Pavel Durov, the founder of the Telegram app, announced on Sunday that hundreds of thousands of new users in Palestine and Israel had joined the platform for the first time since the beginning of the war on Gaza. He wondered: “Will closing Hamas channels on the platform help save lives, or will it expose more of them to danger?” according to the same source.
Durov considered that reacting based on emotional impulses is very tempting, but such complex situations require taking into account the differences between social media platforms, saying, “While it is easy for us to destroy this information source, doing so would already exacerbate the tragic situation”.
After the al-Qassam Brigades (the armed wing of Hamas) posted a video on Telegram of the release of two detained women and the proper handling of them by the armed elements, users of social media platforms shared images from their screens displaying warnings that Hamas-affiliated channels or those specialized in transmitting Palestinian internal news had become “unavailable”.
Furthermore, Telegram contacted accounts affected by this blocking, stating: “Some channels you follow may not be accessible in the current version of Telegram due to the guidelines of the Google Play Store, which specializes in materials and groups related to terrorist organizations”.
Telegram directed users who wish to continue reading the content of these channels to download a direct version of the application from outside the official store, which is characterized by the fewest possible restrictions, or to follow the content of the channels through the web version of the platform.
Earlier, thousands of activists on Facebook and Instagram complained that their posts supporting Palestinians were being blocked or deleted on the social media platforms. Other activists pointed out that their accounts had been closed after calling for “peaceful protests across the United States” in support of Gaza.