Meta’s removal of the ban on the Arabic word ‘shaheed’, roughly translated as ‘martyr’ in English, as asked by its Oversight Board may lead to the proliferation of terror speech online, said CyberWell, a tech nonprofit on Wednesday.

After a year-long extensive review, the Board on Tuesday asked Meta to end its current blanket ban on the word ‘shaheed’.

Meta had censored the word stating that it could be used to praise or approve of terrorism, but the Board ruled that the ban “has led to widespread and unnecessary censorship affecting the freedom of expression of millions of users”.

However, “this move will lead to more pro-terror content being posted to and remaining on Meta’s platforms, and the romanticization of terrorism online,” said CyberWell founder and executive director Tal-Or Cohen Montemayor, in a statement.

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“Following the largest hijacking of social media platforms on October 7 and in its aftermath by the terrorist group Hamas, Meta’s Oversight Board loosening restrictions on the content moderation practices on the word ‘shaheed’ (martyr) on Facebook, Instagram and Threads, will lead to more pro-terror content being posted to and remaining on Meta’s platforms,” said Montemayor, whose nonprofit is focused on monitoring and combating the spread of antisemitism on social media.

Citing its latest data, CyberWell noted that after the deadly event on October 7, about 61 percent of verified online antisemitism in Arabic was consistent with open calls to violence and justification of attacks against Jews.

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“The Oversight Board decision compels Meta to allow the use of the term for ‘non-armed’ members of designated terror organizations and further forces the permitted use of the term when discussing terror organizations and events in a ‘neutral way’. This grey area will lead to more posts remaining online that romantizise terrorism and expand their supporter base among social media users,” Montemayor said.