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Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry

Democratic senators urge Facebook to take action on anti-Muslim bigotry
© Greg Nash

Democratic senators on Monday urged Facebook to take action against anti-Muslim bigotry spreading on its platform. 

The letter sent to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergWho killed the California dream? If you think it was liberals, think again Facebook touts benefits of personalized ads in new campaign Mellman: White working-class politics MORE followed a recently released report by a Muslim advocacy group that concluded the social media giant enables global anti-Muslim hate and violence. 

Sen. Chris CoonsChris Andrew CoonsPompeo: Release of Khashoggi report by Biden admin 'reckless' Senate Democrat: Saudi relationship being 'recalibrated' Democrats don't trust GOP on 1/6 commission: 'These people are dangerous' MORE (D-Del.) led 14 Democratic colleagues in calling for the company to “do more” to mitigate the spread of anti-Muslim abuse on the platform. 

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“We recognize that Facebook has announced efforts to address its role in the distribution of anti-Muslim content in some of these areas,” the senators wrote.

“Nevertheless, it is not clear that the company is meaningfully better positioned to prevent further human rights abuses and violence against Muslim minorities today,” they added. 

The letter was supported by a range of advocacy organizations and civil rights groups, including Muslim Advocates which released a report last month about Facebooks’ “complicity” surrounding anti-Muslim bigotry. 

“In country after country, anti-Muslim staff at Facebook support anti-Muslim regimes, amplify anti-Muslim rhetoric, and enable anti-Muslim violence,” Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said in a statement when the report was released. 

“Facebook has been warned at every level — by individuals, NGOs, international institutions and by the victims themselves. These are not simple mistakes or oversights, this is complicity,” Khera added. 

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The report recommended Facebook immediately enforce its community standards to address anti-Muslim hate and ban the use of event pages for the purpose of “harassment, organizing, and violence” targeting the Muslim community. The report also recommended Facebook create a senior staff group responsible for the reduction of hate speech and provide regular updates through Facebook’s transparency reports on progress in regards to removing offending content. 

Khera thanked the senators for urging Facebook to take action. 

“With their letter, these senators are raising needed attention to this critical issue. We need to know what Facebook plans to do to end the anti-Muslim hate and violence enabled by their platform—and end it now,” Khera said in a statement. 

The senators requested Facebook respond to a series of questions regarding plans to take action to curb anti-Muslim bigotry by Dec. 16. 

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A spokesperson for Facebook was not immediately available for comment. 

The company has recently taken action to address content removal under increasing pressure. Last month, for example, Facebook said it would remove content denying or distorting the Holocaust from its platform after years of Zuckerberg defending the rights of Holocaust deniers to post on the platform. 

"But with rising anti-Semitism, we're expanding our policy to prohibit any content that denies or distorts the Holocaust as well," Zuckerberg wrote in blog post when announcing the change. 

In October Facebook also said it was tightening its ban of content spreading the QAnon conspiracy theory, saying it would ban all accounts affiliated with the baseless conspiracy theory. Supporters of QAnon believe without evidence that Trump and his allies are working to expose and execute a cabal of Democrats, media figures and celebrities who are running an international child trafficking ring.