Facebook sued for failing to control anti-Muslim hate speech

The suit filed by Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group, alleged that Facebook has created an atmosphere where Muslims feel under siege.

Hyderabad: Alleging deliberate failure to remove content containing hate speech against Muslims, Washington based civil rights group ‘Muslim Advocates’ on Thursday sued Facebook Inc and its top executives.

“Facebook has created an atmosphere where Muslims feel under siege,” the suit said.

The lawsuit also claimed that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg was making “false and deceptive statements”, and had misled the US Congress and others by falsely claiming that the company removes content that violates its policies.

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Civil rights groups and other experts have brought hundreds of anti-Muslim groups and pages on the platform to Facebook’s attention, but the company has failed to penalize more than half of them, the group alleged.

Muslim Advocates also said that it presented Facebook, in 2017, with a list of 26 groups whose pages violated the company’s community standards, and alleged that 18 of those groups still had pages available on Facebook as of April 2021.

According to Reuters, in July 2020, Facebook published a civil rights audit commissioned by the company which said it should invest more resources to study and address organized hate against Muslims and other targeted groups on the platform.

In its defense, the Facebook spokesman said in a statement, “We do not allow hate speech on Facebook and regularly work with experts, nonprofits and stakeholders to help make sure Facebook is a safe place for everyone, recognizing anti-Muslim rhetoric and take different forms.” He further added that they have invested in Artificial Intelligence(AI) technologies to take down hate speech, and that they proactively detect 97 per cent of what they remove.

Reuters said the lawsuit was filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court in Washington, alleging that Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg and other top executives violated the district’s consumer protection law through their statements about removing rule-breaking content.

The lawsuit has asked the judge to declare that Facebook executives’ statements have violated D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act, and seeks damages for Muslim Advocates.

Muslim Advocates, a non-profit based in Washington and is one of the several civil rights organizations that have repeatedly called on Facebook to do more to eliminate anti-Muslim bigotry and white supremacist content.

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