'Genocide Against Rohingya Was Possible Only Because Of Facebook,' Says Refugee, As Amnesty Highlights Meta's Role In Myanmar Violence

Zinger Key Points
  • A report by Amnesty International said Meta’s “hate-spiralling algorithms” incited violence against Rohingya.
  • Meta told Benzinga that the company “supports efforts to hold the Tatmadaw accountable for its crimes against the Rohingya.”

Rohingya refugees are seeking reparations from Meta Platforms Inc. META after a report revealed that its algorithms “proactively amplified and promoted content,” inciting hatred against the community on Facebook.

What Happened: The atrocities committed by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people in 2017 were greatly influenced by Meta’s "hate-spiralling algorithms", said the report by Amnesty International.

“In the months and years leading up to and during the 2017 atrocities, Facebook in Myanmar became an echo chamber of virulent anti-Rohingya content,” stated the report, adding that this was something Meta knew or should have known, but the company did nothing about it.

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Amnesty said despite regular warnings, the platform failed to remove anti-Rohingya content from its site and also actively amplified it until it culminated in the 2017 massacre.

The report also noted that more than 700,000 Rohingya had to flee to neighboring Bangladesh that year. 

Through its "dangerous algorithms and reckless pursuit of profit" Meta "contributed to the atrocities perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people in 2017," the report said.

The Amnesty’s report published on Wednesday carries interviews with displaced Rohingya, former Meta employees, academics, activists, and others. 

Maung Sawyeddollah, a 21-year-old Rohingya refugee, told Associated Press, “We believe that the genocide against Rohingya was possible only because of Facebook. They communicated with each other to spread hate, they organized campaigns through Facebook. But Facebook was silent.”

The Rohingya refugees are now seeking unspecified reparations from the California-based tech giant. 

Check out more of Benzinga's Europe and Asia coverage by following this link.

Meta's Response: Rafael Frankel, Director of Public Policy for Emerging Markets, Meta APAC, told Benzinga, "Meta stands in solidarity with the international community and supports efforts to hold the Tatmadaw accountable for its crimes against the Rohingya people. To that end, we have made voluntary, lawful data disclosures to the UN’s Investigative Mechanism on Myanmar and to The Gambia, and are also currently participating in the OECD complaint process." 

"Our safety and integrity work in Myanmar remains guided by feedback from local civil society organizations and international institutions, including the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar; the Human Rights Impact Assessment we commissioned in 2018; as well as our ongoing human rights risk management,” added Frankel.

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Posted In: NewsPoliticsGlobalTechGeneralAmnesty InternationalEurasiaFacebookMyanmarRohingya
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