The company’s failings to control material and the platform’s architecture, according to a class-action lawsuit filed in California on Monday by law firms Edelson PC and Fields PLLC, contributed to real-world violence endured by the Rohingya population. British attorneys also sent a letter of warning to Facebook’s London headquarters as part of a coordinated operation.
A complaint was filed in California superior court by refugees, while a similar action was brought in the United Kingdom by Rohingya refugees.
No comments have been made from Facebook regarding the matter.
After the Feb. 1 coup, the business said that it was “too slow to prevent misinformation and hate” in Myanmar, but that it has already taken actions to address platform abuses in the country, including barring the military from Facebook and Instagram.
The complaint states, “Facebook is like a robot programmed with a singular mission: to grow. And the undeniable reality is that Facebook’s growth, fueled by hate, division, and misinformation, has left hundreds of thousands of devastated Rohingya lives in its wake.”
Facebook claims that a US internet legislation known as Section 230 shields it from liability for information uploaded by users. This statute states that online platforms are not accountable for content submitted by third parties. If Section 230 is used as a defense, the lawsuit asserts that it will apply Burmese law to the allegations.
Although U.S. courts have the authority to apply foreign law in instances involving claimed injuries and corporate activities in other countries. Reuters spoke with two legal experts who said they were unaware of any successful precedents for foreign law being used in litigation against social media corporations where Section 230 protections would apply.
A professor at Georgetown University Law Center, Anupam Chander, said that invoking Burmese law wasn’t “inappropriate.” But he predicted that “It’s unlikely to be successful,” saying that “It would be odd for Congress to have foreclosed actions under U.S. law but permitted them to proceed under foreign law.”
After a military campaign that included mass executions and rape, more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine province in August 2017. Civilians have been killed and villages have been burned, according to human rights organizations.
Myanmar’s government claims to be fighting an insurgency and denies committing systematic killings.
Human rights investigators from the United Nations concluded in 2018 that the usage of Facebook had a crucial part in the transmission of hate speech that fueled the violence. More than 1,000 examples of postings, comments, and photographs insulting the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook were identified, according to a Reuters investigation that year, which was included in the US case.