A group of Ethiopians and Kenyans have filed a lawsuit against Facebook’s parent company, Meta, accusing the platform of fuelling the viral spread of violence and hatred in Ethiopia’s civil war.
The lawsuit was filed in the past week in Kenya’s High Court and seeks increased moderation of violent posts as well as a fund of around $2 billion for the “victims of hate and violence incited on Facebook.”
According to British lawyer Rosa Curling, cited by DW ”the content moderation decisions that are being taken by Facebook are matters of life and death… The Ethiopian market has 117 million people, Facebook currently employs 25 content moderators.” “That is woefully inadequate,” Curling noted.
One of the lawsuit’s two plaintiffs is the son of a professor who was killed in an attack outside his home, after a series of hateful violent posts on Facebook. “If Facebook had just stopped the spread of hate and moderated posts properly, my father would still be alive,” said Abrham Meareg, the complainant. “I’m taking Facebook to court so no one ever suffers as my family has again. I’m seeking justice for millions of my fellow Africans hurt by Facebook’s profiteering – and an apology for my father’s murder,” he added.
The company rejected the accusations, claiming that they “invest heavily in teams and technology to help us find and remove this content.” “We employ staff with local knowledge and expertise and continue to develop our capabilities to catch violating content in the most widely spoken languages in the country, including Amharic, Oromo, Somali and Tigrinya,” Meta spokesperson Erin McPike said.
This is not the first time Facebook is accused of playing a role in ethnic violence conflicts, similar accusations have been made from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia. Last year, a lawsuit on behalf of 10,000-plus Rohingya refugees, has been filed in California, seeking $150 billion in compensations, for not stopping the spread of hate speech and misinformation. “Facebook is like a robot programed with a singular mission: to grow. And the undeniable reality is that Facebook’s growth, fueled by hate, division, and misinformation, has left hundreds of thousands of devastated Rohingya lives in its wake,” the lawsuit alleged.