This article explores the Facebook unfriending of users from a majority group by members of a minority group, focusing on Palestinian and Jewish citizens of Israel. Indeed, this is the first study to focus on power differentials among Facebook users in the context of unfriending. The article thus adds depth to our understanding of unfriending, while also shedding light on the experience of social media use from the perspective of an oppressed minority. Based on semi-structured in-depth interviews with twenty ’48 Palestinians (Palestinian citizens of Israel), we present various triggers for unfriending (mainly, encounters with racism and surveillance), and show that Palestinians’ stories of unfriending Jewish Israelis are sometimes about punching up and sometimes about stepping away. However, while unfriending is broadly considered an apt response to abuse, it also distances Palestinians from centers of power in Israel. This suggests an important way in which social media reproduce inequality.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research was supported by a grant from the Levi Eshkol Institute for Social, Economic and Political Research in Israel at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel.
© The Author(s) 2020.