People have used app ratings in the past to object to company policies, but an ongoing campaign can do significant damage.
NBC News has found that pro-Palestinian activists are succeeding in a campaign to erase Facebook’s ratings in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store through “thousands” of one-star reviews.
Many participants have accused Facebook of silencing Palestinians as they speak about the recent escalation of violence with Israel.
According to message board information received by NBC, the social network is taking the campaign very seriously. This is marked as a “severity 1” problem, or just below a complete site outage.
A senior Facebook engineer reportedly stated that users felt they had been “censored” and otherwise suppressed.
However, store operators were not necessarily interfering. A Facebook employee claimed that Apple refused to pull one-star reviews. It is unclear how Google has reacted.
We have sought comments from Apple and Google. Facebook dismissed the accusations of censorship in a statement to NBC, claiming that its policies provide “a voice to all” and that they enforce them regardless of beliefs. Spokesman Andy Stone pointed to a team that was “closely monitoring” the Israeli-Palestinian situation to pull out harmful material and rectify enforcement mistakes.
This will not necessarily motivate Facebook to change its perspective. However, it is worth mentioning that the campaign is having an impact at first – and it may be that the App Store host remains off the ground.
It would not be surprising if more such campaigns emerge in the future, even if they do not ultimately lead to the company’s action.