Facebook Algorithms Promote Violence against Rohingya

Facebook’s dangerous algorithms and reckless pursuit of profit substantially contributed to the atrocities perpetrated by the Myanmar military against the Rohingya people in 2017, well-informed sources told Global Rights Watch.

The Rohingya are a predominantly Muslim ethnic minority based in Myanmar’s northern Rakhine State.

 In August 2017, more than 700,000 Rohingya fled Rakhine when the Myanmar security forces launched a targeted campaign of widespread and systematic murder, rape and burning of homes.

In the months and years prior to the crackdown, Facebook in Myanmar had become an echo chamber of anti-Rohingya content.

Actors linked to the Myanmar military and radical Buddhist nationalist groups flooded the platform with anti-Muslim content, posting disinformation claiming there was going to be an impending Muslim takeover, and portraying the Rohingya as “invaders”.

“In 2017, the Rohingya were killed, tortured, raped, and displaced in the thousands as part of the Myanmar security forces’ campaign of ethnic cleansing. In the months and years leading up to the atrocities, Facebook’s algorithms were intensifying a storm of hatred against the Rohingya which contributed to real-world violence,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty International’s Secretary General.

Mohamed Showife, a Rohingya activist, said: “The Rohingya just dream of living in the same way as other people in this world… but you, Facebook, you destroyed our dream.”

In this regard, Global Rights Watch call for holding the Myanmar government to account and for senior members of the Myanmar military to be brought to justice for their role in crimes against the Rohingya.

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