TechCrunch reports that Facebook (now known as Meta) is facing new calls from Amnesty International to pay reparations to the Rohingya people for the company’s alleged role in inciting ethnic violence in Myanmar.
A recent report from Amnesty, which provides what the organization calls a “first-of-its-kind, in-depth human rights analysis” of the role played by Facebook in the crimes committed against the Rohingya in 2017, has found that the tech giant’s addition to the genocide was not merely that of “a passive and neutral platform,” that failed to respond in an adequate manner, but that the company’s core business model of behavioral ads was responsible for urging hatred against the Rohingya people for profit.
Amnesty concludes in its report: “Meta’s content-shaping algorithms proactively amplified and promoted content on the Facebook platform which incited violence, hatred, and discrimination against the Rohingya.”
Amnesty points to Facebook’s ad tracking-based business model, which it calls “invasive profiling and targeted advertising,” as the core contribution that Facebook made to the genocide. Amnesty says that this business model feeds off of “inflammatory, divisive and harmful content,” which it says implicates Facebook for inciting violence against the Rohingya.
Facebook was warned in 2018 by UN human rights investigators that the platform was contributing to the spread of hate speech and violence against Myanmar’s local Muslim minority. Facebook admitted that it was “too slow to prevent misinformation and hate” spreading on the platform, but did not accept that its use of algorithms designed to maximize engagement was fuel for ethnic violence.
In an executive summary of its report, Amnesty references the Facebook papers released by whistleblower Frances Haugen, stating: “This evidence shows that the core content-shaping algorithms which power the Facebook platform — including its news feed, ranking, and recommendation features — all actively amplify and distribute content which incites violence and discrimination, and deliver this content directly to the people most likely to act upon such incitement.”