7amleh – The Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media urged Google to urgently correct misleading information about Palestinians in its search engine’s ‘Knowledge Panel’ and to ensure that historically accurate information is being used to reflect Palestinian history that reflects international law, norms and standards, instead of ignoring documented historical facts in favour of a bias to the Israeli government narrative.
Google omits the Palestinian history both before and after the creation of Israel, and presents misleading information in their knowledge panel, as is the case for many prominent Palestinian persons. Firstly, Palestinians born before the creation of the state of Israel (i.e. before 1948) have their place of birth listed as “Israel”. For example the Palestinian academic Ibrahim Abu Al-Lughid, born in 1929 – several years before the creation of Israel, has his birthplace wrongly listed as “Tel Aviv, Israel”, instead of the place listed in his passport, “Jaffa, Palestine.” Secondly, Palestinians born in the unlawful Israeli occupied Palestinian territory only have the city of their birth listed, without mentioning “Palestine” as a country. For example renowned Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, who only has his birthplace listed as “Al-Birwa”, without “Palestine” as the country.
Google, the largest source of digital information in the world, holds the power to shape the world’s understanding of history. As Palestine is considered a “disputed territory” by Google, the company must work to ensure that its policies are inline with international human rights law, norms and standards. Especially now, with high amounts of fake news and misleading information spreading online, misinformation about Palestinian history must be protected. Google’s continued wrongful display of information on Palestine contributes to the spread of misinformation, and supports Israeli efforts to erase Palestinian history.
As Google has done with other disputed territories and indigenous communities, Google must engage with Palestinians and international fact-checking agencies to ensure that the information on Google’s platforms and products does not contribute to spreading misinformation about Palestinians. 7amleh demands that Google abide by international human rights law, norms and standards and to: (1) Amend the birthplaces of all Palestinians born before 1948 to “Palestine” and (2) add “Palestine” as the country for Palestinians born within the Israeli occupied Palestinian territory after 1948.
This campaign is part of 7amleh’s ongoing advocacy work to defend Palestinian digital rights. In particular, 7amleh has been advocating for Google to respect Palestinian human rights and in particular for Google Maps to stop perpetuating false or misledeading information, especially as it serves the political agendas of Israel.