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Fired Meta Engineer Sues, Alleges He Was Fired for Pushing Back on Palestinian Content Censorship

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Ferras Hamad, formerly an engineer with Meta’s machine learning team, claims he was wrongfully terminated due to his involvement with Palestine-related Instagram content. He alleges that Meta exhibited discriminatory practices and biased treatment against Palestinians.

We obtained a copy of the complaint for you here.

Hamad’s concerns began when he observed alleged irregularities in how Meta restricted content from Palestinian figures on Instagram, hindering their visibility in searches and feeds. A critical incident involved a video by Palestinian photojournalist Motaz Azaiza, depicting a destroyed building in Gaza. The video was mistakenly flagged as pornographic, leading to conflicting instructions about Hamad’s authority to address the issue. Despite being informed in writing that resolving such problems was part of his duties, he was subjected to an investigation a month later.

Following this, Hamad filed an internal discrimination complaint. Shortly after, he was dismissed, with the company citing a violation of its policy against employees working on issues involving accounts of people they know personally. Hamad, a Palestinian-American, denied having any personal connection to Azaiza.

The lawsuit outlines several instances of Meta’s alleged discriminatory practices, including deleting posts mentioning Gaza airstrikes, Palestinian refugees, and UN Palestine Day, while allowing other nationality-based content. Hamad asserts that his efforts to address these issues were met with resistance and retaliation.

The lawsuit further claims that Meta deleted internal discussions among employees about the deaths of relatives in Gaza and scrutinized those using the Palestinian flag emoji. In contrast, employees who posted Israeli or Ukrainian flags were not investigated similarly, the complaint alleges.

Hamad’s termination came on February 2, 2024, just before his stock vesting date. Meta cited a violation of its User Data Access Policy, suggesting Hamad might personally know a high-profile Palestinian photojournalist. Hamad denies any personal connection and attributes his termination to Meta’s discriminatory practices.

Hamad seeks general and special damages, including lost income and employment opportunities, as well as punitive damages.

Meta is yet to comment.

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