| 26 September 2022, Monday |

Facebook critics call for release of human rights review

On Wednesday, Facebook opponents demanded that the world’s largest social network share the results of a human rights impact study it commissioned in 2020 to probe hate speech on its services in India.

The social network firm, now known as Meta, is under fire for its handling of abuses on its services, particularly after whistleblower Frances Haugen published internal papers revealing the company’s troubles policing problematic content in regions where it was most likely to do harm.

Rights groups such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and India Civil Watch International pushed Facebook to reveal the study in a letter submitted to the company earlier this month and made public on Wednesday.

“Such initiatives are hard, particularly in a nation as varied and huge as India,” said Gare Smith, partner and chair of global business and human rights practice at the US law firm Foley Hoag, which Facebook commissioned to do the review.

Miranda Sissons, Meta’s head of human rights policy, stated in a statement, “Given the intricacy of this task, we want these assessments to be thorough.” In accordance with our Human Rights Policy, we shall report on how we are addressing human rights effects on an annual basis.”

Rights organizations informed The Wall Street Journal in November that the social media corporation had restricted the scope of the draft report and was delaying the process.

Smith stated that the company has “taken several procedures to ensure that the evaluation is performed properly.”

For years, human rights organizations have highlighted concerns about online hate speech and disinformation in India, the company’s largest market by number of users.
“As a result of the consistent and continuous barrage of hate on social media, particularly on Facebook, Indian Muslims have been practically dehumanised and rendered helpless and voiceless,” said Zafarul-Islam Khan, a former Chairman of the Delhi Minorities Commission, at a press conference organized by the Real Facebook Oversight Board, a group of Facebook critics.

Last week, the business said it will “consider the feasibility” of commissioning an independent human rights evaluation of its operations in Ethiopia, after its oversight board suggested a review of how its platforms have been used to propagate information that raises the risk of violence.

  • Reuters