Rohingya refugee groups in Burma have sued Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ:FB) for $150 billion on Monday, arguing it has not done enough on the Facebook platform to tackle hate speech against the Muslim minority.
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As reported by Al Jazeera, the complaint was filed in a California court and alleges that algorithms of the internet giant promote misinformation and extremist ideas that spread violence in the real world.
The court document claims “Facebook is like a robot programmed with a singular mission: to grow… The undeniable reality is that Facebook’s growth, fueled by hatred, division, and misinformation, has left hundreds of thousands of Rohingya lives devastated in its wake.”
The Rohingya are essentially Muslim and face open discrimination in Burma, where they are despised as “foreigners” despite having lived in the country for centuries.
In 2017, an Army-backed campaign displaced hundreds of thousands to Bangladesh, where they have since lived in refugee camps – back then, the United Nations described the issue as genocide, since almost 10,000 were killed by the military.
A minority remains in Burma without the right to citizenship while being subjected to routine violence and discrimination by the current military regime that controls the country.
Promotion Of Extremism
According to Al Jazeera, UN human rights investigators in 2018 claimed the use of Facebook “had played a key role in spreading hate speech that fueled the violence.” That same year, an investigation by Reuters – cited in the current complaint – “found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments, and images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook.”
The lawsuit is based on the statement that Facebook’s algorithms are leading the more susceptible users to join extreme groups more often, a situation that is “open to being exploited by politicians and autocratic regimes.”
Non-governmental organizations often argue that Facebook is not doing enough to prevent the spread of misinformation.
Critics further contend that the lack of oversight has allowed fake news to proliferate, endangering the lives of certain minorities and undermining democratic foundations even in the U.S., where unsubstantiated allegations of fraud circulated and escalated after the 2020 elections.
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