Rohingya sue Facebook for 'fuelling genocide' in Myanmar

Rohingya sue Facebook for 'fuelling genocide' in Myanmar
Facebook has been accused of failing to monitor hate speech on its network, which played a significant role in fueling the 2017 genocide, activists say.
2 min read
06 December, 2021
Rohingya Muslims suffered discrimination, violence and ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and were forced to flee to neighbouring Bangladesh [Getty]

Rohingya Muslims are suing social media giant Facebook over the alleged role the social media platform played in the 2017 genocide against their community in Myanmar.

Lawyers requested over £150 billion in compensation from the company, one of the largest group claims ever made by survivors and victims of crimes against humanity in a domestic court.

The legal action was launched on Monday in the US and UK.

"The undeniable reality is that Facebook’s growth, fuelled by hate, division, and misinformation, has left hundreds of thousands of devastated Rohingya lives in its wake," read the complaint submitted to the Northern District Court in San Francisco.

Plaintiffs allege Facebook's algorithms allowed and amplified hate speech against the Rohingya.

Despite admitting there were issues with monitoring anti-Rohingya content on the platform, Facebook failed to employ more people who could read Burmese or Rohingya, or understand the local context, the lawyers argued. 

In September, a US judge ordered Facebook to release posts that it had removed over their role in inciting violence against the Rohingya. Facebook had resisted releasing this content on the grounds of US privacy law.

"We remain appalled by the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar and support justice for international crimes," a Facebook spokesperson stated following the ruling.

The Rohingya are a persecuted minority in Myanmar, a country with a Buddhist majority population. 

Abusive social media posts portrayed the Muslim group in sub-human terms and drummed up support for a military crackdown on the community that forced more than 740,000 people to flee the country in 2017.

Most now live in wretched conditions in one of the world's biggest refugee camps in neighbouring Bangladesh.