News Release

Zoom Censors University Event


Nora Barrows-Friedman reports in the Electronic Intifada: “Major Silicon Valley companies censored an event at San Francisco State University on Wednesday.

“This means that during the pandemic, private companies closely aligned with the government have immense power over what can be said, even in an academic setting.

“Zoom, the web-based videoconferencing platform, announced Tuesday evening that it was prohibiting SFSU from using its software to host a planned webinar on Wednesday with Leila Khaled, the Palestinian resistance icon who is now in her seventies and lives in Jordan. … A member of the left-wing political group the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Khaled is best known for her role in a series of plane hijackings in 1969 and 1970. She has not been involved in any armed resistance activities in decades.”

Abdulhadi is director of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diaspora program at San Francisco State University. She co-moderated the event with Tomomi Kinukawa. They said in a statement: “This censorship violates our freedom of speech and academic freedom as faculty to teach, deprives our students from the right to learn, and denies the general public the right to hear from speakers who are not readily available in mainstream media.” Other panelists were a former member of the armed wing of the African National Congress, a current member of Jewish Voice for Peace and a former member of the Black Liberation Army.

Khalidi, director of Palestine Legal, said: “This is a dangerous attack on free speech and academic freedom from Big Tech: Zoom cannot claim veto power over the content of our nation’s classrooms and public events. The threat to democracy is elevated by the fact that Zoom’s decision to stamp out discussion of Palestinian freedom comes in response to a systematic repression campaign driven by the Israeli government and its allies.”

Jillian York, author of the forthcoming book Silicon Values tweeted: “Note that this is ToS [terms of service] and not law, despite what Facebook and co have repeatedly and incorrectly claimed. … The New York Times can and has hosted op-eds from US-designated terrorists; so too can Facebook host their page or Zoom their call. They just don’t want to so they conveniently claim it’s the law.”

See also from CommonDreams: “Advocates Demand Facebook #StopCensoringPalestine After Platform Blocks Livestream Featuring Palestinian Rights Defenders.”