Facebook sued by Muslim civil rights group for hate speech

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A civil rights group is suing Facebook and its leaders, saying CEO Mark Zuckerberg made “false and deceptive” statements to Congress when he said the giant social network was removing hate speech and other material that violated its rules.

The lawsuit, filed by Muslim lawyers in Washington, the Supreme Court on Thursday, claims Zuckerberg and other senior executives “participated in a coordinated campaign to convince the public, elected officials, federal officials and non-profit leaders in the country’s capital that Facebook is a safe product. “

Facebook, the lawsuit claims, has been repeatedly warned of hate speech and calls for violence on its platform and has done nothing or very little. Making false and fraudulent statements to remove hateful and harmful content violates the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Act and its prohibition of fraud, the lawsuit said.

“Every day, ordinary people are bombarded with harmful content in violation of Facebook’s own policies on hate speech, harassment, harassment, dangerous organizations and violence,” the lawsuit said. “Hatred, anti-Muslim attacks are especially prevalent on Facebook.”

In a statement, Facebook said it did not allow hate speech on its platform and said it regularly works with “experts, non-profit organizations and stakeholders to make sure Facebook is a safe place for everyone, recognizing anti-Muslim rhetoric. may vary shapes.

The company, based in Menlo Park, California, said it had invested in artificial intelligence technologies aimed at eliminating hate speech and was actively finding 97 percent of what it removed.

Facebook declined to comment outside the statement, which did not respond to the case’s allegations that it did not remove hate speech and anti-Muslim networks from its platform, even after being notified of their existence.

For example, the case cites research by Elon University professor Megan Squire, who posted a study on anti-Muslim groups on Facebook and alerted the company. According to the lawsuit, Facebook did not remove the groups – but changed the way outside scientists could access its platform so that the type of research done by Squire would be “impossible unless done by Facebook employees.” .

Facebook’s hate speech policy prohibits targeting a person or group with “dehumanizing speech or images,” calls for violence, references to subhumanity and inferiority, and summaries that indicate inferiority. The policy refers to attacks based on race, religion, national origin, disability, religion, caste, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and serious illness.

But in an example from April 25, 2018, Squire reported to a Facebook group called Purge Worldwide, according to the case. The group’s description reads: “This is an anti-Islamic group A Place to share information about what is happening in your part of the world.”

Facebook replied that it would not remove the group or content. The case cites other examples of groups with names such as “Death for the Murder of Members of the Islamic Muslim Cult” and “Dirt of Islam”, which Facebook did not remove, although it was notified, although Facebook’s policy prohibits “reference or comparison with dirt ”based on religion. In the latter case, Facebook removed some posts from the group, but not the group itself.

The case also cites an exception that Facebook made in its policy for former president Donald Trump, for whom Facebook made an exception to its rules when it announced as a candidate in 2016 a ban on all Muslims entering the United States.

Zuckerberg and other social media executives have repeatedly testified before Congress about how they fight extremism, hatred and misinformation on their platforms. Zuckerberg told the House Energy and Trade Committee that the issue was “nuanced.”

“Any system can make mistakes” in moderating harmful materials, he said.

The plaintiffs want a lawsuit and damages of $ 1,500 (approximately Rs. 1.12 varnish) for the violation.

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