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AI Aided by Meta's WhatsApp Used in Israeli Genocidal War in Gaza to Kill Palestinians: Report

23 Apr 2024 21:00

Islam Times - Israel's utilization of an AI targeting system to strike Palestinians in Gaza has been reportedly facilitated by Meta's WhatsApp messaging platform, recent reports have unveiled.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Israel employs an artificial intelligence-enhanced system known as 'Lavender' to pinpoint suspects in the Gaza Strip before executing targeted strikes, analyzing up to 37,000 Palestinians within this framework.

The system, rather than functioning solely as a targeting tool, is characterized by a deliberate high civilian casualty rate. Israeli military and intelligence sources have conceded to targeting individuals even when they are within their homes alongside their entire families. As one source articulated, "The occupation forces bombed them in homes without hesitation, as a first option. It's much easier to bomb a family's home. The system is built to look for them in these situations."

Highlighting a crucial aspect often overlooked regarding the Lavender system's methodology is the involvement of the messaging platform, WhatsApp, as pointed out by software engineer and blogger Paul Biggar. A significant determinant in the system's identification process is whether an individual is part of a WhatsApp group containing another suspected person. 

Beyond concerns regarding the method's accuracy and the ethical implications of targeting Palestinians based on shared WhatsApp groups or social media connections, there lies the question of WhatsApp's portrayal as privacy-focused and its assurance of "end-to-end" encryption for messages.

Biggar has accused WhatsApp's parent company, Meta, of complicity in Israel's targeting of "pre-crime" suspects in Gaza, alleging a direct violation of international humanitarian law and Meta's own public commitment to human rights.

These disclosures represent the latest evidence of Meta, formerly Facebook, being implicated in the suppression of Palestinian and pro-Palestinian voices. The platform has long faced criticism for its efforts to stifle dissent against Israeli and Zionist narratives, including allowing advertisements promoting violence against Palestinians and attempting to flag the term 'Zionist' as hate speech.

However, Meta's purported sharing of WhatsApp users' data and private messages with the Israeli military and its AI targeting systems indicates a deeper level of collaboration, potentially rendering it directly complicit in the ongoing Israeli genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

Responding to inquiries regarding the accuracy of the reports, a WhatsApp spokesperson informed MEMO, "We have no information that these reports are accurate. WhatsApp has no backdoors and we do not provide bulk information to any government. For over a decade, Meta has provided consistent transparency reports... Our principles are firm – we carefully review, validate and respond to law enforcement requests based on applicable law and consistent with internationally recognized standards, including human rights."

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