NASHVILLE, Tenn. May 20, 2024 —The Future of Free Speech, a nonpartisan think tank dedicated to restoring a resilient global culture of free speech, announced its submission of a public comment to Meta’s Oversight Board regarding the moderation of the phrase “From the River to the Sea” on its platforms. The comment advises against restrictions of the slogan “from the river to the sea” from its platforms unless accompanied by direct incitements to violence or hate as required by international human rights standards. This submission comes as part of the ongoing review by Meta’s Oversight Board concerning the classification of various statements on their platforms.

Jacob Mchangama, Executive Director of The Future of Free Speech, emphasizes, “Any decision on moderating political expressions like ‘From the River to the Sea’ must consider the broader implications for freedom of expression and international human rights law. While we recognize that this phrase is offensive to many Israelis and Jewish people and could be used to advocate incitement to antisemitic hatred or violence, context is critical, and a blanket restriction could unjustly stifle legitimate political discourse.”

The public comment submitted by The Future of Free Speech outlines several key points:

  • The phrase “From the River to the Sea” has been historically used by various actors in political debates and protests related to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
  • Restrictions on such political speech should be narrowly tailored, as international human rights law generally protects political discourse, especially when it does not incite violence or discrimination.
  • The specific context in which the phrase is used is crucial. Without additional elements that clearly incite violence or hatred, the phrase alone does not meet the threshold for hate speech under the Rabat Plan of Action.

Mchangama further elaborates, “The use of this phrase, in isolation, should not be conflated with incitement to violence or hate speech. It is essential for social media platforms to uphold the principles of free expression, ensuring that political speech remains protected unless there is a clear and direct risk of harm.”

The submission underscores Meta’s human rights responsibilities and the necessity for a nuanced approach to content moderation that aligns with international standards. The Future of Free Speech calls on Meta’s Oversight Board to carefully evaluate the context and intent behind the use of political phrases to avoid undue censorship.


  • Read the full text of The Future of Free Speech’s submission.
About The Future of Free Speech

The Future of Free Speech is an independent, nonpartisan think tank located at Vanderbilt University working to restore a resilient global culture of free speech in the digital age through knowledge, research, and advocacy. Learn more at or on FacebookX, and LinkedIn.

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