A team of lawyers representing victims of the genocide suffered by Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group in 2017 sued Facebook in Britain and the United States, demanding $200 billion in compensation.
The lawsuit exposes that Facebook’s algorithms encouraged hate speech against the Muslim Rohingya, stoking racist contempt among the largely Buddhist population, reports The Times, Dec. 6.
In the event, at least 800,000 victims fled in desperation to seek refuge in Bangladesh, where they were subjected to all kinds of deprivation given the destitution to which they were reduced abroad.
Initially, they were attacked by the Myanmar army and local death squads in retaliation for low-level attacks by Rohingya militants on about 30 police posts.
For the UN this case was a “frenzied blood-letting and mass rape” perpetrated in Rakhine province, in the west of the country, which included the abduction of numerous women and girls, to the distress of the population. He added that it was a typical “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”
For their part, the activists accused Facebook of failing to stop anti-Rohingya propaganda, and, in fact, the social network accepted to have been: “too slow to prevent disinformation and hate” against the Rohingya.
Specifically, they accused the Silicon Valley tech giant of failing to remove posts and accounts that incited violence.
The large team of lawyers constitutes a transatlantic coalition of lawyers, which advises several charities. On this occasion, it claimed that the lawsuit was necessary to stop Facebook from “running the world with impunity.”
In this context, the senior partner of the law firm McCue Jury & Partners LLP, which is leading the lawsuit, Jason McCue, was emphatic in stating that through their legal action they were seeking to “stop this juggernaut of a company that is out of control.”
He added: “Whilst on duty, it allowed toxic hatred and ethnic cleansing to be deployed at will by the Myanmar regime and its supporters within its extremist hate speech chat forums.”
Going further, it stated that Facebook prioritized its economic gains by trying to expand its market in the small country, without considering the dire consequences that would sweep members of the ethnic minority.
As such, the document stated, “It has had blinders on to any real calculation of the benefits to itself compared to the negative impacts it has on anyone else.”
It also stated, “Facebook is like a robot programmed with a singular mission: to grow.”
Despite its repeated expressions of regret and promises to correct such harmful trends, a report by human rights group Global Witness revealed in June that its algorithm continued to invite users to “pages containing posts that incited and threatened violence,” according to the Daily Mail.