Facebook being used as a human rights violation tool yet again, this time in Assam: Report

A new report examined how Facebook is being used to spread hate speech to fuel ethnic violence.


Facebook has become a playground for human rights violations once again as the platform is being used to spread hate speech against minorities in Assam, claims a new report from Avaaz.

Avaaz is a non-profit organisation that works for human rights issues across the world. The Bengali-Muslim minority population in the region is being targeted after the government launched a controversial programme called National Register of Citizens (NRC) to curb illegal immigration.

 Facebook being used as a human rights violation tool yet again, this time in Assam: Report

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Image: Reuters

As reported by Buzzfeed News, offensive comments and posts that violate Facebook’s standards on hate speech were posted nearly 100,000 times and viewed at least 5.4 million times said the report. It went through 800 posts on the platform related to Assam and the NRC in its report titled Megaphone for Hate: Disinformation and Hate Speech on Facebook During Assam’s Citizenship Count. Comments calling the minority group as “criminals”, “dogs”, “pigs”, “rapists”, and “terrorists” were found in these posts.

Avaaz senior campaigner Alaphia Zoyab said that Facebook is being used as a “megaphone for hate” against the vulnerable minorities in Assam. She said that since the social giant isn’t dedicating the resources necessary to keep the group safe on the platform, it’s complicit in the persecution of these people.

Facebook responded to Avaaz and Buzzfeed News saying that it seeks to protect the rights of minorities and marginalised communities around the world and in India. It claimed that content found violating its policies is removed as soon as Facebook is made aware of it.

The social media platform was caught up in a similar controversy earlier for not doing enough to protect the Rohingya Muslim minority group in Myanmar. Anti-Muslim content calling for ethnic violence against the group was routinely posted on the platform that ultimately led to the displacement of 700,000 Rohingya Muslims in 2017.

Facebook banned 20 organisations and individuals from the platform following a UN report that called it a “useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate.” The company admitted that it was "too slow" to act on the issue.

Avaaz claims in its report that Facebook hasn’t been vigilant enough with the situation arising in Assam. It requested the company to establish better moderation to monitor hate speech being posted against the minority group. However, Avaaz says that Facebook has declined to do so.

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