Facebook has apologized for its role during the violence in 2018 in Sri Lanka, after the findings of an investigation showing that the rumors and hate speech relayed by the u.s. platform could have generated a wave of attacks against muslims.
Beginning 2018, the violence against the muslim minority erupted, fuelled by social networks, which had led the sri lankan government to impose a state of emergency and block the access to Facebook in the country.
The social network global had then ordered an investigation to clarify its role. In their report, the investigators were of the opinion that content that is hateful posted on Facebook may have sparked this movement.
“We deplore the misuse of our platform,” said Facebook in a statement to Bloomberg News, after the publication on Tuesday of the findings of this survey. “We recognize the very real impact on human rights which has resulted, and we apologize for the inconvenience “.
During the violence, at least three people were killed and 20 injured. Mosques and shops belonging to muslims had been burnt to the ground, in particular in the centre of this majority buddhist country.
The hate speeches and rumours that spread on Facebook ” could have led to violence, “off-line” ” according to Article One, the cabinet council on human rights in charge of this investigation.
These experts suggest that before the unrest, Facebook had not removed the content and that they stayed and “even spread” on the platform.
In 2018, leaders of sri lanka had said that the perpetrators used Facebook to coordinate attacks and that the platform had “only two people” to examine the contents broadcast in sinhala, the language of the ethnic majority of the country whose members were at the origin of the attacks.
Sexual Exploitation in Indonesia
Facebook account 4.4 million daily active users in Sri Lanka, according to Article One.
The american giant claims to have taken steps in the past two years to better protect human rights.
“In Sri Lanka (…) we reduce the broadcasting of messages frequently shared, which are often associated with the “clickbait” (use of titles especially designed to generate clicks, readers) and to the misinformation, ” said Facebook.
The platform indicates that it has hired more staff, particularly of people speaking sinhalese, and have started to use a detection technology to protect vulnerable communities.
Article One has also investigated the impact in Indonesia of Facebook, but also of its subsidiaries, WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram.
The firm has found that in addition to the political attacks and attempts to influence elections, the most vulnerable communities of the archipelago are facing growing risks.
The sharing of images without consent, cyber-bullying and sexual exploitation constitute particular threats to women, according to the consulting firm. “In some cases, women are the victims of blackmail, forced into abusive relationships, or even raped to avoid the publication on Facebook of pictures of them naked,” says this report, published in parallel to the one on Sri Lanka.
Article One also claims to have also “found evidence of blackmail and online sexual exploitation of children” on Facebook.
The giant of social media states to intensify its efforts for that country, as in Sri Lanka, in order to protect its users.
In recent years, following various scandals, Facebook has put in place a more rigorous curriculum that respects and protects the privacy of its users.