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Commentary on Facebook's legal responsibility to avoid enabling human rights abuses via its platform; incl. co comments

Author: Ingrid Burrington, The Atlantic, Published on: 29 December 2017

"Could Facebook be tried for human-rights abuses?", 20 Dec 2017

...[Facebook] has to reckon with its role in passively enabling human-rights abuses... [T]he platform is a central source of online information, and in Myanmar propaganda legitimizing crimes against humanity can have massive reach and influence... 

When asked about what resources the company has allocated to address misinformation and hate speech, Facebook spokesperson Ruchika Budhraja responded via email that “we have steadily increased our investment over the years in the resources and teams that assist in ensuring our services are used by people in Myanmar to connect in a meaningful and safe way.”

...[P]osing the question of a platform’s legal culpability for human-rights abuses seems a quixotic pursuit... less to do with the innocence or guilt of platforms and more to do with the realities of human-rights law...

Facebook does seem to understand that it has a responsibility to address manipulation on the platform, and to its users in Myanmar, regardless of the fact that tensions between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhist nationalists have existed long before their market presence... But when asked how the company frames that responsibility—as a moral, ethical, legal, or business concern—Facebook had no on-the-record response...

The incoherence of platforms’ response to their very real public harms and the lack of imagination in accountability mechanisms might explain the doomed appeal of crafting a single coherent legal charge...

Read the full post here

Related companies: Facebook