On the sixth anniversary of Myanmar military’s brutal operation, Meta should immediately pay reparations to the Rohingya for the role that Facebook played in the ethnic cleansing of the persecuted minority group, Amnesty International said on Friday (Aug 25).
Facebook’s algorithms and Meta’s ruthless pursuit of profit created an echo chamber that helped foment hatred of the Rohingya people and contributed to the conditions which forced the ethnic group to flee Myanmar en masse, reads a report of the Amnesty.
“Our investigations have made it clear that Facebook’s dangerous algorithms, which are hard-wired to drive “engagement” and corporate profits at all costs, actively fanned the flames of hate and contributed to mass violence as well as the forced displacement of over half the Rohingya population of Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh.
“It is high time Meta faced its responsibilities by paying reparations to the Rohingya and by fixing its business model to prevent this from happening again.”
Amnesty International and Al Jazeera published a searing first-person account by Rohingya refugee Maung Sawyeddollah, who was forced to flee his village in Myanmar when he was just a teenager.
He fled through torched villages and fields filled with dead bodies and now lives in the world’s biggest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, with around a million of his people.
As a child, before the hate took root with the help of Facebook, he and his mostly Muslim Rohingya friends played happily with the mostly Buddhist Rakhine children from the neighbouring village — but that all changed when the military moved in.
Last year, Amnesty International published a report detailing Meta’s role in the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people by the Myanmar military in 2017. It revealed that even Facebook’s internal studies dating back to 2012 indicated that Meta knew its algorithms could result in serious real-world harms. In 2016, Meta’s own research clearly acknowledged that “our recommendation systems grow the problem” of extremism.
Beginning in August 2017, the Myanmar security forces undertook a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar’s Rakhine State.
They unlawfully killed thousands of Rohingya, including young children; raped and committed other sexual violence against Rohingya women and girls; tortured Rohingya men and boys in detention sites; and burned down hundreds of Rohingya villages. The violence pushed over 700,000 Rohingya — more than half the Rohingya population living in northern Rakhine State at the beginning of the crisis — into neighbouring Bangladesh.
Meta contributed to serious adverse human rights impacts suffered by the Rohingya in the context of the 2017 atrocities in Rakhine State and therefore has a responsibility under international human rights standards to provide an effective remedy to the community.