On 18 May, the coalition of activists from eight countries including Myanmar, Syria, Srilanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Philippines, Ethiopia and India called on Facebook to take an effective and more consistent approach to deal with civil rights and political bias on the social media platform. The coalition demanded an audit of human rights abuses, spreading misinformation in the elections and, interfering with the democratic process in these countries.
The demands of the coalition hold significance as Facebook has failed to stop hate-filled posts against the Muslim community of Myanmar. The social media giant has been under severe criticism for spreading genocide in Myanmar and manipulating the political content on the platform.
An activist Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Executive Director of Equality Labs said: “Many of the countries here have been engaged with Facebook for years to try to receive justice in our communities. And what we’re finding is that Facebook has different standards for different markets.”
Facebook comprises of a huge population of active users from these countries and seeks to expand further in the future. An activist Soundararajan said “We are the next billion users of the internet, so we’re going to wield our power, and it really begins today,” said Soundararajan. We’re not on Facebook’s timeline anymore. We’re on our timeline.”
Two months back, a group of activists called on Facebook CEO Zuckerberg for sustained transparency to which he responded: “What’s happening in Myanmar is a terrible tragedy, and we need to do more.” The coalition of activists particularly demanded the worldwide audit of the content posted on the Facebook, human rights audit, hate speech and transparency of the electoral process.
Facebook is already recovering from data breach scandal relating to a data analytics firm — Cambridge Analytica. Zuckerberg has previously admitted to the role of the social network in propagating misleading information and fake news during the US 2016 presidential election.
Due to the ongoing Facebook chaos and to ensure transparency in the upcoming elections in Pakistan, Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will only run verified political ads ahead of general elections 2018-19 and vowed to help Pakistan in the electoral process by dealing with misinformation and fake news.