Facebook owner Meta’s dangerous algorithms and reckless pursuit of profit substantially contributed to the atrocities perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people in 2017, Amnesty International said in a new report published today.
The Social Atrocity: Meta and the right to remedy for the Rohingya,details how Meta knew or should have known that Facebook’s algorithmic systems were supercharging the spread of harmful anti-Rohingya content in Myanmar, but the company still failed to act.
“In 2017, the Rohingya were killed, tortured, raped, and displaced in the thousands as part of the Myanmar security forces’ campaign of ethnic cleansing. In the months and years leading up to the atrocities, Facebook’s algorithms were intensifying a storm of hatred against the Rohingya which contributed to real-world violence,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.
“While the Myanmar military was committing crimes against humanity against the Rohingya, Meta was profiting from the echo chamber of hatred created by its hate-spiralling algorithms.
“Meta must be held to account. The company now has a responsibility to provide reparations to all those who suffered the violent consequences of their reckless actions.”
Sawyeddollah, a 21-year-old Rohingya refugee, told Amnesty International: “I saw a lot of horrible things on Facebook. And I just thought that the people who posted that were bad… Then I realized that it is not only these people – the posters – but Facebook is also responsible. Facebook is helping them by not taking care of their platform.”
The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority based in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State. In August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine when the Myanmar security forces launched a targeted campaign of widespread and systematic murder, rape and burningof homes. The violence followed decades of state-sponsored discrimination, persecution, and oppression against the Rohingya that amounts to apartheid.
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