A civil rights group is suing Facebook and its executives, claiming CEO Mark Zuckerberg made “false and misleading” statements to Congress when he said the social media giant was removing hate speech and other content that break its rules.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday by Muslim Advocates in Washington, DC, in Superior Court, claims that Zuckerberg and other senior leaders “have embarked on a coordinated campaign to convince the public, elected officials, federal officials and leaders to national capital nonprofit. that Facebook is a safe product. “
Facebook, according to the lawsuit, has been repeatedly alerted to hate speech and calls for violence on its platform and has done nothing or very little. Making false and misleading claims about removing hateful and harmful content violates the District of Columbia’s consumer protection law and its prohibition on fraud, the lawsuit says.
“Every day ordinary people are bombarded with harmful content in violation of Facebook’s own policies on hate speech, bullying, harassment, dangerous organizations and violence,” the lawsuit said. “Hateful and anti-Muslim attacks are particularly prevalent on Facebook.”
In a statement, Facebook said it does not allow hate speech on its platform and said it regularly works with “experts, nonprofits and stakeholders to ensure that Facebook is a safe place for everyone, recognizing that anti-Muslim rhetoric can take different forms.
The Menlo Park, Calif., Based company said it has invested in artificial intelligence technologies aimed at suppressing hate speech and proactively detecting 97% of what it removes.
Facebook declined to comment beyond the statement, which did not respond to allegations in the trial that it did not remove hate speech and anti-Muslim networks from its platform even after being briefed of their existence.
For example, the lawsuit cites research by Megan Squire, a professor at Elon University, who posted research on anti-Muslim groups on Facebook and alerted the company. According to the lawsuit, Facebook didn’t remove the groups – but it changed the way outside academics can access its platform so that the type of research Squire did would be “impossible if done by Facebook employees ”.
Facebook’s hate speech policy prohibits targeting any person or group with “dehumanizing speech or images”, calls for violence, references to subhumanity and inferiority, and generalizations indicating inferiority. The policy applies to attacks based on race, religion or national origin, disability, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, sex, gender identity and serious illness.
But in an example from April 25, 2018, Squire reported to Facebook about a group called “Purge Worldwide,” according to the lawsuit. The description of the group reads: “It is an anti-Islamic group A place to share information about what is going on in your part of the world.”
Facebook responded that it would not remove the group or the content. The lawsuit cites other examples of groups with names such as “Death to murder of members of the Islamic Muslim cult” and “Filth of Islam” which Facebook did not remove despite its notification, even though Facebook policy prohibits ” any reference or comparison to dirt ‘on the basis of religion. In the latter case, Facebook deleted some posts from the group, but not the group itself.
The lawsuit also cites an exception made by Facebook to its policy towards former President Donald Trump, for whom Facebook made an exception to its rules when it posted the ban to all as a candidate in 2016. Muslims to enter the United States.
Zuckerberg and other social media officials have repeatedly testified before Congress on how they combat extremism, hatred and disinformation on their platforms. Zuckerberg told the House Energy and Trade Committee that the issue was “nuanced.”
“Any system can make mistakes” in moderating harmful hardware, he said.
The plaintiffs seek a jury trial and damages in the amount of $ 1,500 (approximately Rs. 1.12 lakhs) per violation.
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