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Rohingya Refugees Sue Facebook for $150bn for Fueling Myanmar Hate Speech

Rohingya Refugees Sue Facebook for $150bn for Fueling Myanmar Hate Speech
folder_openAsia-Pacific... access_timeone month ago
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By Staff, Agencies

Rohingya refugees sued the social media giant Facebook for $150bn over claims the social network is failing to stem hate speech on its platform, exacerbating violence against the vulnerable Myanmar minority.

The complaint, lodged in a California court, said the algorithms that power the US-based company promote disinformation and extreme thought that translates into real-world violence.

“Facebook is like a robot programmed with a singular mission: to grow,” the court document stated.

“The undeniable reality is that Facebook’s growth, fueled by hate, division, and misinformation, has left hundreds of thousands of devastated Rohingya lives in its wake.”

The mainly Muslim group faces widespread discrimination in Myanmar, where they are despised as interlopers despite having lived in the country for generations.

A military-backed campaign that the United Nations said amounted to genocide saw hundreds of thousands of Rohingya driven across the border into Bangladesh in 2017, where they have been living in sprawling refugee camps ever since.

Many others remain in Myanmar, where they are not permitted citizenship and are subject to communal violence, as well as official discrimination by the military that seized power in February.

The legal complaint argues that Facebook’s algorithms drive susceptible users to join ever-more extreme groups, a situation that is “open to exploitation by autocratic politicians and regimes.”

In 2018, UN human rights investigators also said the use of Facebook had played a key role in spreading hate speech that fueled the violence. A Reuters investigation that year, cited in the US complaint, found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments and images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook.

The International Criminal Court has opened a case into the accusations of crimes in the region. In September, a US federal judge ordered Facebook to release records of accounts connected to anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar that the social media giant had shut down.

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