Meta has been charged with allowing violent and hateful posts from Ethiopia to thrive on Facebook in a new trial.
Filed in Kenya, the lawsuit claims the social media giant’s actions have inflamed the country’s civil war between government and rebel forces in the northern Tigray region, which has seen thousands killed and millions displaced.
It was brought against Metaowner of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, by two Ethiopian researchers and Kenyan advocacy group Katiba Institute.
They argued that Facebook’s recommendation system amplified violent posts in Ethiopiaincluding several that predated the murder of Abrham Mearag, the father of one of the researchers.
The lawsuit described Facebook posts made in October 2021 that used ethnic slurs to refer to Mr Meareg, shared his address and called for his death.
Mr. Mearag reported them to Facebook at the time, but the company refused to remove them quickly or in some cases.
case at all, according to the lawsuit.
Meta has also been accused of failing to exercise due diligence in training its algorithms to identify
posts and to hire staff to monitor the content of the languages covered in Nairobi.
What does Meta have to say about claims?
The company said hate speech and incitement to violence are against Facebook and Instagram rules.
“We are investing heavily in teams and technology to help us find and remove this content,” Meta spokeswoman Erin McPike said.
He added, “We employ staff with local knowledge and expertise and continue to develop our capabilities to detect infringing content in the most widely spoken languages in Ethiopia.”
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staff in Nairobi and set up restitution funds of around $2bn (£1.6bn) for victims of Facebook instigated violence.
The case echoes accusations Meta has faced for years over atrocities stoked on its platforms, including in
Burma, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Cambodia.
Last year, the company’s independent oversight board recommended a review of how Facebook and Instagram have been used to spread content that increases the risk of violence in Ethiopia.