Facebook is being sued by dozens of Rohingya refugees in the UK and US. The social platform is accused of allowing hate speech to be spread against them. 

In their opinion, Facebook promotes violence against the persecuted minority and that’s why they are demanding more than $150bn (£113bn) in compensation. However, the platform did not give an immediate response, even though it is accused of allowing spreading hateful and dangerous misinformation for years.

A British law firm which is representing some of the refugees has written a letter to Facebook. Www.bbc.com gave some information about it. The letter is said to contain accusations of failing to invest in moderators and fact checkers who actually knew about the political situation in Myanmar. Also, the company is blamed for not taking down posts or deleting accounts that incite violence against Rohingya. Furthermore, in their words it did not take appropriate and timely action, even with all the warnings from charities and media.

As for the US lawyers, they field a legal complaint against Facebook. They accuse the media of being “willing to trade the lives of the Rohingya people for better market penetration in a small country in Southeast Asia.” In an investigation by the Reuters news agency, there were posts that appeared, stating: “We must fight them the way Hitler did the Jews.” Another one said: “Pour fuel and set fire so that they can meet Allah faster.”

The platform has more than 20 million users in Myanmar, and it is the main or even the only way of getting and sharing news.  In 2018 Facebook did admit that its efforts to prevent the incitement of violence and hate speech against the Rohingya were not enough.

The social media site was hugely popular there. It seems, however, that the company was not aware of what was happening on its own platform. That’s why they didn’t actively moderate content in local languages like Burmese and Rakhine. But if they did, they would have seen anti-Muslim hate speech and disinformation about terrorist plots from the Rohingya.

Meta, however, which is now Facebook’s parent company, is trying to turn the focus away from the social platform.

Facebook is largely protected from liability over content posted by its users, under the US law. However, the new lawsuit argues the law of Myanmar, and it has no such protections.

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Nikoleta Yanakieva Editor at DevStyleR International