Myanmar’s Rohingya refugees are suing Meta for $150 billion (about Rs 11,31,300 crore).
A US class-action complaint filed in California on Monday by law firms Adelson PC and Fields PLLC argues that the company’s failures in the design of police materials and its platform contributed to the real-world violence faced by the Rohingya community.
In a coordinated action, British lawyers also submitted a letter of notice of facebook London Office.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment about the lawsuit. The company has said it was “too slow to curb misinformation and hate” in Myanmar and has said it has taken steps to crack down on abuse of the platform in the region, including military bans from Facebook and instagram After the February 1 coup.
Facebook has said it is protected from liability on content posted by users by a US Internet law called Section 230, which holds that online platforms are not liable for content posted by third parties. The complaint states that if Section 230 is raised as a defense, it seeks to apply Myanmar law to claims.
Although US courts can apply foreign law in cases where the alleged harm and activity by companies occurred in other countries, two legal experts interviewed by Reuters said they needed to apply foreign law in lawsuits against social media companies. Didn’t know of a successful example. Section 230 protection may apply.
Anupam Chander, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, said the enforcement of Myanmar law was not “unfair”. But he predicted that “it is unlikely to succeed,” adding that “it would be strange for Congress to withhold action under US law, but allow them to proceed under foreign law.”
More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine province in August 2017 following a military crackdown that refugees said included mass killings and rape. Rights groups documented civilian killings and burning of villages.
Myanmar officials say they were battling an insurgency and deny systematic atrocities.
A spokesman for a Myanmar junta did not respond to a phone call from Reuters seeking comment on the legal action against Facebook.
In 2018, UN human rights investigators said the use of Facebook was instrumental in spreading hate speech that fueled violence. A Reuters investigation that year found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments and images on Facebook attacking Rohingya and other Muslims, cited in the US complaint.
The International Criminal Court has opened a case alleging crimes in the region. In September, a US federal judge ordered Facebook to release records of accounts linked to anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar, which was shut down by the social media giant.
New class-action lawsuit references Facebook whistleblower claims Francis Haugen, who leaked a cache of internal documents this year, that the company does not police abusive material in the countries where such speech is most likely to cause harm.
The complaint also cited recent media reports, including a Reuters report last month, that Myanmar’s military was using fake social media accounts, widely referred to as “information warfare” in the military. is referred to.
Mohammad Tahir, a refugee living in Bangladesh camps that house more than a million Rohingyas, said Facebook was widely used to spread anti-Rohingya propaganda. “We welcome the move,” he said over the phone.
© Thomson Reuters 2021