Facebook is now facing legal action in the US and the UK for failing to control the spread of violence against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar through its platform. In a coordinated move in both countries, the lawsuits ask for compensation of more than $150 billion (about Rs 11 lakh crore) from the firm, for the families affected by the genocide.
The lawsuits against Facebook claim that the social media network was used to promote hate speech against the Rohingya. They further blame the company for not taking any actions to stop this from happening. In fact, the lawsuits claim that Facebook’s algorithms amplified this hate speech against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
The lawsuit in the UK is expected to be filed with the high court and the pursuer, law firm McCue Jury & Partners, has already sent a letter to Facebook’s UK office on Monday. The lawsuit represents the Rohingya in the UK as well as the refugees in Bangladesh camps. While in the US, a class action suit has been filed with the San Francisco district court, which aims to act on behalf of an estimated 10,000 Rohingya within the country.
As mentioned in a report by The Guardian, the lawsuits blame Facebook for not appointing enough local moderators and fact checkers in the wake of the violence spread through its social media network. They also allege that the company did not take down posts and accounts that were used to spread hate speech against Rohingya Muslims.
Back in 2018, Facebook became a medium for a covert operation by Myanmar’s military, which was meant to spread a feeling of hate and fear against the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Although the company banned the official accounts of senior Myanmar military leaders involved with the practice, the extent of the propaganda campaign spread through fake accounts was simply outside Facebook’s control.
The letters shared in the recent lawsuits highlight this failure of Facebook. By not doing enough to control the spread of targeted misinformation and hate speech, Facebook was “willing to trade the lives of the Rohingya people for better market penetration in a small country in south-east Asia,” one letter reads.
Facebook has earlier admitted to all the allegations. An independent report by Facebook confirmed that the social media network was being used to spread hate and cause harm. The report even cleared that the hate posts have been linked to violence in real life.
The letter shared in the UK lawsuit mentions that despite Facebook’s recognition of its shortcomings, the company has not initiated any compensation, “nor any other form of reparations or support” to any survivor.