Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya refugees Muslims in the United States and the United Kingdom sued the social media giant Facebook over allowing hate speech against them to spread. Furthermore, they are demanding over $150 billion in compensation, claiming the platforms of Facebook promoted violence against the oppressed minority.
In 2017, around ten thousand Rohingya Muslims killed during the military crackdown in Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Facebook’s parent company, Meta, didn’t respond immediately to the allegations. Instead, the network faced charges of allowing the spreading of dangerous misinformation and hateful content to continue for many years.
In the United Kingdom, a British law company representing some refugees wrote a letter to Facebook, alleging:
- Facebook was unable to invest in fact-checkers and moderators who knew about the Myanmar political situation
- The algorithms of the company spread hate speech against the Rohingya people
- The firm failed to remove posts or users’ delete accounts that provoked violence against Rohingya
- It also was unable to take timely and proper action, despite warnings from the media agencies and charities groups
In San Francisco, the lawyers filed a lawsuit against Facebook. They accused it of being willing to trade Rohingya people’s lives for better market penetration in a small nation in Southeast Asia. They highlight Facebook posts that showed in an investigation by the news agency Reuters, including one in 2013 stating that “to defeat them, we must follow Hitler’s way.” Likewise, another Facebook post said that pour petrol and set fire so that they could meet Allah faster.
Facebook has over twenty million users in Myanmar. The social media platform is their primary or only way of sharing and getting the news for many. However, in 2018, Facebook confessed that it hadn’t done enough to stop the incitement of hate speech and violence against the Rohingya. It followed an autonomous report, and Facebook commissioned it that said the social media website created a facilitating environment for propagating human rights abuse.
Myanmar authorities saw the Rohingya Muslims as illegal migrants and discriminated against by the public and government for decades. Furthermore, the Myanmar military launched a brutal crackdown in 2017 in Rakhine state after Rohingya militants executed fatal attacks on police posts. In the crackdown, thousands of innocent people died, and over seven hundred thousand Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh. There are also extensive claims of human rights abuses, including rape, illogical killing, and the burning of agricultural land.
UN Accused Facebook Accusing of Ineffective Response against Hate Speech
The United Nations accused Facebook in 2018 that its algorithm is slow and ineffective in its response to the spread of hate speech. Under the United States law, Facebook is mainly protected from legal responsibility for its user’s posted content. However, the latest lawsuit argues that the Myanmar law should be overcome in the case. BBC News asked Meta for comment on the lawsuit, but it didn’t respond immediately.
In addition, the complaint highlights recent media reports that the military of Myanmar was using phony social media accounts to engage in what is mainly referred to in the military as information combat. As a result, the International Criminal Court initiated a case into the allegations of crimes in the region. In September, a United States federal judge ordered Facebook to release records of social media account linked to anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar that Facebook had shut down.