Myanmarese Rohingya refugees sued Facebook for more than $150 billion on Monday, while refugees in the United States and the United Kingdom seek a concerted legal case against the digital giant.
According to an attorney representative, Facebook’s “inaction and promotion of hate speech, misinformation, and encouragement of violence encouraged the 10-year genocide of the Rohingya Muslims.” It goes on to mention a UN inquiry that found Facebook played a “determining role” in Myanmar’s genocide of 24,000 Rohingya Muslims.
According to the lawsuit, the tech giant “allowed the spread of hateful and harmful falsehoods to continue for years, long after it was repeatedly warned of the horrible and deadly implications of its inactivity.”
Insider reached out to Facebook — now Meta — for comment on the complaint, but the company did not immediately respond. In a 2018 blog post titled Independent Assessment of Facebook’s Human Rights Impact in Myanmar, Facebook stated that an independent Business for Social Responsibility report was being prepared “Before this year, we weren’t doing enough to prevent our platform from being used to foment division and incite offline violence, according to the report. We agree that there is more we can and should do.”
“We’re working with the United Nations’ Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, which has a responsibility to collect evidence with adequate safeguards in place and assist accountability efforts,” Facebook said in a follow-up to the post last year. “We’ve begun to lawfully provide data to the IIMM that we preserved in 2018 as a result of our operation. We will continue to work with them as these investigations progress to offer pertinent information as they pursue international crimes in Myanmar.”
The plaintiff in the case will try to apply Burmese law to her allegations in order to get around Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects tech businesses from user-generated content. This distinction, according to Edelson PC, a Chicago-based legal firm that launched the class-action suit, is a “critical element” of the US litigation. Frances Haugen, a Facebook whistleblower who went public with a trove of internal papers and testified before Congress, is quoted many times in the complaint, making it the second major case against the social network since she went public with a collection of internal information.
While the UK equivalent to the case has yet to be filed, McCue Jury & Partners notified Facebook’s London headquarters a letter of a notice on Monday informing the business that its clients “plan to pursue proceedings against FB UK in the High Court.”
“Despite Facebook’s admission of guilt and statements about its role in the world, no survivor has received a single penny of compensation, nor any other form of reparation or help,” according to the letter seen by Insider. “Until date, no effective legal action against Facebook has ever been filed to recompense the Rohingya people for the terrible losses they have experienced.”