Rohingya sue Facebook for $150bn in unprecedented lawsuit over Myanmar genocide

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Rohingya refugees in the US and UK are suing Facebook for more than $150bn (£113bn), accusing the social media giant of allowing hate speech and dangerous misinformation to spread against the community.

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Facebook allowed years of hate speech in Myanmar until a genocide was reported against the country’s oppressed minority, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in San Francisco on behalf of an estimated 10,000 Rohingya people in the US. Got it. ,

Refugees are suing the social media company for “compensatory damages, in excess of $150bn, in addition to punitive damages to be determined in the trial” for promoting violence against the community.


Reuters reported that lawyers in the UK have also submitted a letter of notice to Facebook’s London office in a coordinated effort.

While the Rohingyas in Myanmar have long been persecuted, the lawsuit states that the introduction of Facebook in the country in 2011 “contributed to the growth and widespread spread of anti-Rohingya hate speech, misinformation and the promotion of violence.”

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The lawsuit states that human rights abuses and sporadic violence over a period of this decade turned into terrorism and mass genocide.

The refugees accused Facebook of being “willing to trade the lives of Rohingya people for better market penetration in a small country in Southeast Asia”.

The lawsuit says Facebook Messenger was used to spread similar but conflicting chain messages to Muslim and Buddhist communities, inciting sectarian violence in the region in early September 2017.

It cited several Facebook posts reported by Reuters in early 2013, which said: “We must fight them the same way Hitler did to the Jews, damn it.” [a derogatory term for Rohingya people],

Another post in 2018 showed a picture of a boat full of Rohingya refugees, which read: “Pour the fuel and set it on fire so that they can meet Allah sooner.”

One of the most dangerous operations, according to the lawsuit, came in 2017, when “the army’s intelligence arm spread rumors on Facebook to both Muslim and Buddhist groups that an attack from the other side was imminent… (sic).”

As of September 2018, more than 10,000 people were killed and at least 725,000 Rohingya fled to neighboring Bangladesh, following misinformation online.

The UN’s independent international fact-finding mission on Myanmar reported that during the Myanmar military’s ethnic cleansing operation, more than 40 percent of all villages in northern Rakhine state were partially or completely destroyed.

It specifically alleged that Facebook had contributed to the ethnic cleansing operations of the Myanmar military.

The lawsuit states that the United Nations mission examined documents, Facebook posts and audio-visual materials that contributed to shaping public opinion on the Rohingya, and confirmed that a “carefully crafted hate campaign” affected Myanmar’s population. developed a negative perception of Muslims among them.

“This discourse created a favorable environment for anti-Muslim violence in Rakhine State and beyond for 2012 and 2013, without strong opposition from the general public. This led to the hardening of repressive measures against the Rohingya and Kaman in Rakhine State and in 2016 and 2017. It also enabled waves of state-led violence.

Citing the work of Alan Davies, an analyst with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, the lawsuit noted that in the months before the ethnic cleansing campaign, posts on Facebook became “more organized and hateful, more militarized” and the Myanmar military. Were. Used posts on social media platforms to justify “clearance actions”.

The allegations in the lawsuit center around claims that Facebook is aware of the ground situation in Myanmar, but chose to ignore complaints of hate speech made on the platform.

After Facebook’s algorithms said that Facebook’s algorithms promoted hate speech against the Rohingya community, the social media giant failed to invest in local moderators and fact-checkers.

Rohingya refugees said Facebook’s response to warnings about hate speech was “completely ineffective”.

He said the platform was not fully ready in 2014 with just one Burmese-speaking content critic, a local contractor in Dublin and a second Burmese speaker, who only started work in early 2015.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who testified for the US Congress in October, claimed that the platform prioritizes profits over people’s well-being. She also alleged that the company was not doing enough to stop ethnic violence in countries including Ethiopia and Myanmar.

He said only a small portion of the company’s spending to combat misinformation is to curb hate speech in the regional language.

But responding to these allegations, Facebook said it used a “pervasive” strategy with the use of native speakers and third-party fact-checkers.

Granthshala has reached out to Facebook for comment about the allegations leveled in the Rohingya trial.


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