Meta Sued for $150 Billion by Rohingya Refugees Over Myanmar Violence

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Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are suing Meta, previously generally known as Facebook, for $150 billion (roughly Rs. 11,31,300 crore) over allegations that the social media firm didn’t take motion in opposition to anti-Rohingya hate speech that contributed to violence.

A US class-action grievance, filed in California on Monday by legislation corporations Edelson PC and Fields PLLC, argues that the corporate’s failures to police content material and its platform’s design contributed to real-world violence confronted by the Rohingya group.

In a coordinated motion, British attorneys additionally submitted a letter of discover to Facebook’s London workplace.

Facebook didn’t instantly reply to a Reuters request for remark concerning the lawsuit. The firm has mentioned it was “too slow to prevent misinformation and hate” in Myanmar and has mentioned it has since taken steps to crack down on platform abuses within the area, together with banning the navy from Facebook and Instagram after the February 1 coup.

Facebook has mentioned it is protected against legal responsibility over content material posted by customers by a US Internet legislation generally known as Section 230, which holds that on-line platforms should not accountable for content material posted by third events. The grievance says it seeks to use Myanmar legislation to the claims if Section 230 is raised as a protection.

Although US courts can apply overseas legislation to instances the place the alleged harms and exercise by firms passed off in different international locations, two authorized specialists interviewed by Reuters mentioned they didn’t know of a profitable precedent for overseas legislation being invoked in lawsuits in opposition to social media firms the place Section 230 protections may apply.

Anupam Chander, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, mentioned that invoking Myanmar legislation wasn’t “inappropriate.” But he predicted that “it’s unlikely to be successful,” saying that “it would be odd for Congress to have foreclosed actions under US law but permitted them to proceed under foreign law.”

More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017 after a navy crackdown that refugees mentioned included mass killings and rape. Rights teams documented killings of civilians and burning of villages.

Myanmar authorities say they had been battling an insurgency and deny finishing up systematic atrocities.

A Myanmar junta spokesman didn’t reply cellphone calls from Reuters looking for touch upon the authorized motion in opposition to Facebook.

In 2018, UN human rights investigators mentioned using Facebook had performed a key position in spreading hate speech that fuelled the violence. A Reuters investigation that 12 months, cited within the US grievance, discovered greater than 1,000 examples of posts, feedback and pictures attacking the Rohingya and different Muslims on Facebook.

The International Criminal Court has opened a case into the accusations of crimes within the area. In September, a US federal decide ordered Facebook to launch data of accounts linked to anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar that the social media big had shut down.

The new class-action lawsuit references claims by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who leaked a cache of inner paperwork this 12 months, that the corporate doesn’t police abusive content material in international locations the place such speech is prone to trigger probably the most hurt.

The grievance additionally cites current media reviews, together with a Reuters report final month, that Myanmar’s navy was utilizing pretend social media accounts to have interaction in what’s extensively referred to within the navy as “information combat.”

Mohammed Taher, a refugee dwelling within the sprawling Bangladesh camps which can be residence to greater than one million Rohingya, mentioned Facebook had been extensively used to unfold anti-Rohingya propaganda. “We welcome the move,” he mentioned by cellphone.

© Thomson Reuters 2021


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