Meta deletes Egyptian TV show during live Facebook broadcast over Gaza content: TV Host

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Zeinab El-Gundy , Tuesday 28 Nov 2023

Prominent Egyptian journalist and TV host Kaswaa El-Khelaly revealed on her TV show “In the Evening with Kuswah” on CBC TV that Meta, the owner of Facebook, deleted the live broadcast of her show episode on Sunday over coverage of the Gaza war.

TV Host
Egyptian TV host TV host Kaswaa Elkhelaly. Photo : CBC TV


The deleted episode, which aired last Sunday, tackled the rights of the Palestinian people and the fate of civilians in Gaza after the ceasefire.

Kaswaa El-Khelaly described the deletion as "electronic suppression of journalistic and professional freedoms" on her TV show on Tuesday.

During the episode, El-Khelaly hosted Ezzat Ibrahim, the editor-in-chief of Ahram Online and Al-Ahram Weekly, Alaa El-Ghatrify, the editor-in-chief of Al-Masry Al-Youm, and Mohamed Saad Abdel-Hafiz, the managing editor of Al-Shorouk newspaper.

The episode also featured Samuel Werberg, Director of the Dubai Regional Media Hub of the US State Department and one of the US government’s principal Arabic-language spokespeople.

The call lasted for only a few minutes and showed a major gap in perspective between the host and the guest on the Gaza war.

Werberg described Hamas as a terrorist group while El-Khelaly clarified that this is simply the official US stance and not Egypt’s official stance on Hamas.

The end of the call came when the Egyptian TV host asked him what Washington was doing to extend the ceasefire between the Palestinians and Israelis.

However, Werberger avoided answering the question, claiming that he did not hear it well, and asked her to clarify it. When El-Khelaly repeated the question, Berger hung up on her abruptly, saying he was forced to end the call without giving further details.

El-Khelaly explained that the US State Department may decide to continue or end such calls whenever it wishes.

According to her, after the first part of the episode ended, and the second part began, Meta deleted the show's live Facebook broadcast, surprising its producers.

The official reason given by Meta for deleting the live broadcast was that it violated the standards of the platform, despite El-Khelaly's show abiding by all standards of media and journalism worldwide, she said.

Nevertheless, the TV host said she believes that Meta deleted the broadcast because it was upset with the course of her interview with Werberg.

She added that Meta also threatened CBC that if the program continued to be broadcast on Facebook, the channel's official Facebook page could be shut down.

In a statement issued on Facebook, El-Khelaly expressed dismay at the deletion, stating, "Throughout the program's history, not a single professional or ethical mistake has occurred” adding that the show receives wide acclaim for the content, objectivity, diversity of opinions, and accuracy, reflecting its commitment to respecting Egyptian and Arab viewers.

"I also condemn the blatant transgressions and severe pressures on the rights of Egyptian and Arab journalists and media professionals," she added.

The host criticized Meta's standards, which prohibit discussions about the rights of Palestinian children, the entry of more aid, and the portrayal of the war on Gaza as a genocide.

In her statement, El-Khelaly concluded, "As journalists and professional media figures, we have recently faced a dark and explicit violation of our journalistic freedom to disseminate information, convey and analyze news, in the face of unfair standards denying people the right to life and survival, revealed in the Palestinian situation."

She demanded that the blood of journalists and civilian martyrs in Palestine not be shed twice, once through bombardment and violence and again by preventing their voices from reaching the world.

From its side, Egypt’s Journalists' Syndicate announced its solidarity with El-Khelaly on Tuesday.

The Freedom Committee of the Journalists' Union condemned, in a statement, “the electronic suppression” of journalistic and professional freedoms on the program.

The committee emphasizes that Meta's actions are an example of the electronic suppression exercised by social media platforms against Arab and Palestinian content, escalating since the "Al-Aqsa Flood" operation and the war on Gaza.

 The committee strongly condemns the use of "suppression algorithms" and "electronic dictatorships" biased in favour of the Zionist entity, considering these actions complicit in the crimes against civilians and children in Gaza since 7 October.

Since the start of the war on Gaza, many pro-Palestine social media users including Arabs and Egyptians have reported “mass censorship” and “biased algorithms,” as well as “shadow banning,” whether on Meta’s social media networks like Instagram or Facebook or Google’s YouTube.

Currently, many pro-Palestine and pro-Gaza social media users use tactics and tricks to overcome the algorithm restrictions by using different spellings to avoid censorship.

Nevertheless, the incident involving Kaswaa El-Khelaly's TV show is a particularly flagrant example of this phenomenon.

Meta has not issued a statement to date regarding the incident.

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