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Rohingya: Compensation demanded from Facebook

The displacement of the Rohingya from Myanmar is not only a blatant violation of human rights, but also a precedent for discussing the accountability of digital platforms for the dynamics amplified by their operation. Damages of $150 billion are now being sought from Facebook.

What Happened

The Rohingya Muslim minority has been largely displaced from Buddhist-majority Myanmar. Even before the expulsion, there was systematic discrimination – human rights were partially withheld from members of the Muslim minority. In the last years before the military coup in Myanmar, the situation worsened considerably, which finally led to the expulsion of the members of the minority. UN Human Rights Commissioner Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein described the crackdown as exemplary of ethnic cleansing.

What is Facebook’s role?

Facebook’s role has been to be a platform of ever-increasing hatred. Through the meta-corporation’s platform, the Myanmar government as well as nationalist parties and Buddhist associations incited violence against Rohingya in Myanmar. The lawsuits now filed in the UK as well as in the US highlight the central role of the platform: Facebook’s algorithm, which is bluntly geared towards constant growth, has massively contributed to the spread of hate messages and calls for violence, thus fueling the momentum even further. Facebook has thus served an autocratic regime as a willing helper to consolidate its own position of power.

Reactions of the UN

This opinion is shared by the UN, among others. Already in a three-year-old report, it is mentioned that Facebook has clearly contributed to worsening the situation in Myanmar. At that time, UN Special Rapporteur Yanghee Lee had spoken of Facebook having become a beast.
It remains to be seen whether the UN assessments will have any influence on the decisions of the courts called upon. Interestingly, Facebook is largely protected from consequences under U.S. law and cannot be held responsible for shared content. The lawsuits therefore refer to laws from Myanmar.

Basic issues

However, the lawsuits primarily raise fundamental questions aimed at clarifying the extent to which a platform can be held responsible for lawsuits whose occurrence it does not cause, but fosters. The courts’ decision is likely to be groundbreaking for the further discussion about Facebook and Co.

Simon Lüthje

I am co-founder of this blog and am very interested in everything that has to do with technology, but I also like to play games. I was born in Hamburg, but now I live in Bad Segeberg.

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The displacement of the Rohingya from Myanmar is not only a blatant violation of human rights, but also a precedent for discussing the accountability of digital platforms for the dynamics amplified by their operation. Damages of $150 billion are now being sought from Facebook. What Happened The Rohingya Muslim minority has been largely displaced from … (Weiterlesen...)

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