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Facebook failed to detect hate speech against Rohingya, report finds

Soldiers are transported in a truck in Myanmar
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A recent report found that Facebook did not detect hate speech and violence directed against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslim minority. 

Global Witness, a rights group, submitted eight paid advertisements containing different versions of hate speech to Facebook. The social media giant approved all eight ads, Global Witness said in a release.

The advertisements were pulled before they were published but showed that Facebook’s controls did not properly detect or stop calls for violence or hate speech even in simple tasks such as monitoring paid advertisements.

Specifically, the ads contained language from the United Nations Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar’s report to the Human Rights Council, The Associated Press reported.

“I accept the point that eight isn’t a very big number. But I think the findings are really stark, that all eight of the ads were accepted for publication,” Rosie Sharpe, a Global Witness campaigner, told the wire service. “I think you can conclude from that that the overwhelming majority of hate speech is likely to get through.”

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously been asked about Myanmar during a U.S. Senate hearing in 2018. At that time, he said Facebook intended to hire “dozens” of Burmese speakers as content moderators.

“Hate speech is very language-specific. It’s hard to do it without people who speak the local language and we need to ramp up our effort there dramatically,” Zuckerberg said at the time, according to the AP.

But internal files that were part of whistleblower Frances Haugen’s leak last year showed that while Facebook increased efforts to address hate speech, the company never completely developed tools and strategies to address all policy breaches, the AP noted. 

The Hill has reached out to Facebook for comment.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday designated actions by Myanmar’s military against Rohingya as genocide. 

“​​It’s a decision that I reached based on reviewing a factual assessment and legal analysis prepared by the State Department, which included detailed documentation by a range of independent, impartial sources, including human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as our own rigorous fact-finding,” Blinken said.

Tags Antony Blinken Facebook Hate speech Human rights in Myanmar Mark Zuckerberg

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