Facebook apologised for its role in the communal violence in Sri Lanka two years ago after an investigation found that the social media platform was used to spread hate speech and rumours. After the report was published on May 12, Facebook said in a statement to Bloomberg News that the company deplores the misuse of the platform and apologise for its “very real” human rights impacts.
In 2018, at least three people were killed and 20 injured following anti-Muslim rhetoric based on rumours was amplified on Facebook which forced the government to block the access to it and impose a state of emergency. The company then commissioned an investigation into the incident by hiring human rights consultancy Article One.
While Facebook has 4.4 million daily active users in Sri Lanka, officials said that the tech giant had only "two resource persons" to review the content in Sinhala, the language of country’s ethnic majority. The company said that it has significantly increased staffing, hiring policy leads and program managers in Sri Lanka and expanding the number of content reviewers who speak Sinhala.
“In Sri Lanka...we are reducing the distribution of frequently reshared messages, which are often associated with clickbait and misinformation,” said Facebook in a statement.
Article One in its Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIA) recommended Facebook to invest in changes to platform architecture to promote authoritative information and reduce the spread of abusive content The tech giant said that it has already removed around 4.7 million pieces of content on Facebook connected to organised hate in the first three months of 2020, an increase of over 3 million pieces of content from the previous quarter.
“We’ll continue working to disrupt and remove dangerous organizations from our platform and we’ll share how we’re doing at enforcing our policies and combating new ways people may try to abuse our apps,” the company added.
(Image credit: AP)