Blanket ban on word ‘shaheed’ to be lifted by Meta

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Global technological giant Meta has decided to lift its blanket ban on the use of word “shaheed” (martyr) as per the recommendations of its Oversight Board.

The company, which also own prominent social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, announced the policy change after accepting the board’s extensive review which assessed that the blanket ban might be censoring those speaking about violence in conflict-hit places such as Gaza and Sudan.

The word “Shaheed”, which Meta itself has accepted to being subjected to one of the most over-enforced blanket bans, has long been censored and removed by the tech company which till now, considered it to be a referral to “entities named in the Dangerous Organizations and Individuals (DOI) policy”.

No exceptions were allowed for reporting on, neutrally discussing or condemning the term which resulted in millions of users, especially from Arabic-speaking and Muslim communities, having content unfairly taken down, noted the Oversight Board.

However, it was assessed that the word has various meanings — several of which are not aimed at praising, glorifying or approving violence, it added.

The board stresses that the policy change is expected to have a “swift impact” on content when it is taken down.

Welcoming the development, Oversight Board member Paolo Carozza said: “This change may not be easy, but it is the right thing to do and an important step to take. By vowing to adopt a more nuanced approach that will better protect freedom of expression, while also ensuring the most harmful material is still removed.”

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