Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has defended the actions it took to prevent hate speech against Rohingya muslims during the Myanmar genocide.
Rohingya muslims are claiming £150bn in compensation from Facebook over its failure to crack down on groups inciting violence against the religious minority and algorithms which amplified and promoted hate speech.
Yesterday, UK lawyers delivered a letter to Facebook’s London office notifying the tech giant of its intention to begin legal proceedings. Across the Atlantic US lawyers filed a case against Facebook in a San Francisco court.
“We’re appalled by the crimes committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar,” a spokesperson for Meta told City A.M.
According to Meta, the company created a dedicated team of Burmese speakers to prevent hate speech on the platform, disrupted networks manipulating public debate and invested in Burmese-language technology to reduce the prevalence of violating content.
“This work is guided by feedback from experts, civil society organizations and independent reports, including the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar’s findings and the independent Human Rights Impact Assessment we commissioned and released in 2018,” Meta said, referring to an independent report which found Facebook had become a tool used to spread hatred and incite violence against the Rohingya people.
The US filing accused Facebook of being “willing to trade the lives of the Rohingya people for better market penetration in a small country in south-east Asia.”
The filing added that there was “little for Facebook to gain” from its continued presence in the country which had dire consequences for the Rohingya people: “In the face of this knowledge, and possessing the tools to stop it, it simply kept marching forward,” the complainants wrote.
In the UK, legal action against Facebook is being led by law firm McCue Jury & Partners. A letter submitted to Facebook’s London office yesterday, ahead of the launch of formal proceedings, said that clients had suffered “serious violence, murder and/or other grave human rights abuses” conducted by the ruling regime in Myanmar and aided by the social media platform which launched in Myanmar in 2011.
“As has been widely recognised and reported, this campaign was fomented by extensive material published on and amplified by the Facebook platform,” wrote law firm McCue.
Facebook, which has since changed its name to Meta, admitted in 2018 that it had not done enough to prevent the incitement of violence and hate speech against the Rohingya. An independent report commissioned by the company found that “Facebook has become a means for those seeking to spread hate and cause harm, and posts have been linked to offline violence.”
An estimated 10,000 Rohingyas were killed in a campaign of genocidal violence perpetrated by Myanmar’s ruling regime and Buddhist majority. Rohingyas were forced out of the country and now live in squalid conditions in the world’s largest refugee camp.
According to claims by whistleblower and ex-Facebook employee Frances Haugen the social media site continues to fan the flames of ethnic hatred around the world. She estimated that 87 per cent of spending is allocated towards moderating English language posts even though English speakers make up just nine per cent of users.