In the past, users have used app reviews to object to company policies. However, an ongoing campaign can cause significant damage. NBC News has learned that pro-Palestinian activists have successfully dismissed Facebook’s Apple App Store and Google Play Store ratings with “thousands” of one-star ratings. Many of the attendees have accused Facebook of silencing Palestinians when they spoke about the recent escalation of violence with Israel.
The social network takes the campaign very seriously, according to NBC information. It is flagged as a “Severity 1” problem or just below a full site outage. A senior Facebook engineer reportedly said that users felt “censored” and otherwise oppressed.
In particular, however, the shop owners did not necessarily intervene. A Facebook employee claimed Apple refused to receive the one-star ratings. It’s not clear how Google reacted.
We asked Apple and Google for a comment. Facebook denied allegations of censorship in a statement to NBC, claiming that its guidelines “give everyone a voice” and that they would be applied regardless of their beliefs. Spokesman Andy Stone pointed to a team that “closely monitored” the Israeli-Palestinian situation in order to both extract malicious content and correct enforcement errors.
This isn’t necessarily going to cause Facebook to change its approach. It’s noteworthy, however, that the campaign is primarily making an impact – and that App Store hosts may be staying out of the fight. It wouldn’t be surprising if more campaigns like this crop up in the future, even if they don’t ultimately lead to corporate action.
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