US Congress members criticise Facebook’s failure to remove anti-Muslim hate speech

US Congress members criticise Facebook’s failure to remove anti-Muslim hate speech
2 min read
18 December, 2020
A US Congresswoman’s letter to Facebook strongly criticizing the platform’s failure to tackle anti-Muslim bigotry has been welcomed by CAIR and other Muslim organizations.
Muslim groups have said that hate speech is 'rampant' on Facebook [Getty]

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a major US Muslim advocacy group, has welcomed a letter by Michigan congresswoman Debbie Dingell calling on Facebook to take “immediate action” to remove anti-Muslim hate speech from its website.

Dingell, who represents Michigan’s 12th Congressional District, said that Facebook “cannot celebrate the success of its platform, while ignoring its role in elevating the dangerous, deadly content targeting Muslim people”.

29 other members of the US Congress signed the letter, which noted that the killing of fifty-one Muslims at mosques in Christchurch in New Zealand was livestreamed on Facebook.

“Facebook failed to offer a single policy intentionally designed to eradicate hateful, anti-Muslim content,” Dingell’s letter, which was addressed to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, said.

“Nearly two years later, it’s time for Facebook to demonstrate that this company recognizes the life and death consequences of their lack of action.”

Read more: Facebook's anti-Islam algorithm

Dingell called on Facebook to form a working group dedicated to preventing anti-Muslim bigotry and the spread of anti-Muslim hate, content, and tropes.

She said that the social media giant should ensure that white supremacist groups and militias could not organize events on its platform, or “terrorize targeted communities”.

The Democrat Party congresswoman also called on Facebook to provide regular anti-discrimination training for its staff and to commit to a pro-active policy of removing anti-Muslim material before it was seen by users.

She said that an “independent third-party” should review Facebook’s “role in enabling anti-Muslim violence, genocide, and internment”.

Other American Muslim organizations also expressed their appreciation for Dingell’s letter.

 “Just last week, we learned that not only did the Christchurch shooter use Facebook to livestream his slaughter, he also was a member of multiple anti-Muslim hate groups on the platform. Anti-Muslim hate has consequences and Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg [Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer] must finally take action to stop it from proliferating on their platform,” said Scott Simpson of Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group dedicated to fighting bigotry.

In October, Muslim Advocates published a detailed report looking at the proliferation of anti-Muslim bigotry on Facebook around the world, and noting that the social media platform had been used to organize the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the murder of Muslims in India.

The report said that anti-Muslim hate groups were “running rampant” on Facebook and accused Mark Zuckerberg of failing to live up to his 2015 promise to “create a peaceful and safe environment” for Muslims.

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