Two lecturers at San Francisco State University invited Palestinian feminist and militant Leila Khaled to a Zoom class on Sept. 23 titled “Whose Narratives? Gender, Justice and Resistance.” But for Zoom, some college classes are a step too far.
Zoom cancelled the event, later explaining that it was in violation of the company’s terms of service. Facebook deleted the event page the day of the panel, stating that the content violates its policy of “prohibiting praise, support and representation for dangerous organizations and individuals.” Approximately 23 minutes into the talk, YouTube also stopped the livestream and disabled the registration link.
Khaled is affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular and revolutionary socialist Palestinian party that the United States designated as a terrorist organization in 1997. The other speakers on the panel were all members of previously proscribed resistance and liberation movements.
A month since the SFSU webinar, Zoom censored two more Palestine-focused university events. These incidents are a reminder of the powerful yet shameful role big tech companies play in silencing voices of political dissent and erasing the narratives of marginalized communities. It also emphasizes the pressing need for companies like Zoom to publicly commit to respecting freedom of expression.