Meta's harmful algorithm contributed to attempted genocide in Myanmar.

Meta’s harmful algorithm contributed to attempted genocide in Myanmar.

More than 25,000 Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar have died since 2017. Most of these deaths were due to direct brutality and violence from Myanmar’s security forces. While the attempted genocide of Rohingya Muslims was condemned around the world, few were aware of the role Facebook played in this.

A report published on the Amnesty International website on 28th September says ‘Meta Owes Reparations’ to the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar. According to Amnesty International, Facebook’s algorithm fuelled hateful content and at the same time, the company profited from increased social media activity in Myanmar. Amnesty International also added that Facebook gave a platform to violence inciters who had long borne xenophobic hatred against Rohingya Muslims.

Mohamed Ayas, a Rohingya school teacher from Myanmar, said that violence began when religious leaders started spreading hateful messages on Facebook. Before that, Rohingya Muslims and non-Muslims of the region stayed peacefully, despite occasional differences.

According to Agnès Callamard of Amnesty International, Facebook helped brew the storm of hatred that would eventually kill thousands of Rohingya Muslims. There were several instances of hate speech against Rohingyas on Facebook. Most famously, the military leader of Myanmar Min Aung Hlaing wrote on Facebook, “our country has no Rohingya race”.

While Amnesty International wants Meta to pay reparations to the affected population, there isn’t any indication that something like that may happen. Amnesty’s report is more of a social justice piece than an assessment of hate crimes promoted on Facebook. Facebook or Meta has not commented on this report yet.


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