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17 Mar 2022

Rina Chandran & Maya Gebeily, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Facebook accused of "double standard" & biased content moderation policies that could harm users in conflict zones

See all tags Allegations

"Facebook's 'double standard' on hate speech against Russians" 17 March 2022

Facebook's decision to allow hate speech against Russians due to the war in Ukraine breaks its own rules on incitement, and shows a "double standard" that could hurt users caught in other conflicts... Meta Platforms, will temporarily allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion... It will also allow praise for a right-wing battalion "strictly in the context of defending Ukraine", in a decision that experts say demonstrates the platform's bias.

"The disparity in measures in comparison to Palestine, Syria or any other non-Western conflict reinforces that inequality and discrimination of tech platforms is a feature, not a bug," said Fatafta, policy manager for the Middle East and North Africa [at Access Now].

Last year, hundreds of posts by Palestinians protesting evictions from East Jerusalem were removed by Instagram...who later blamed technical errors.  Digital rights groups slammed the censorship, urging greater transparency on how moderation policies are set and ultimately enforced.

For Wahhab Hassoo, a Yazidi activist who has campaigned to hold social media firms accountable for failing to act against Islamic State (ISIS) members using their platforms to trade Yazidi women and girls, Facebook's moves are deeply troubling.

"When they can make certain decisions unilaterally, they can basically promote propaganda, hate speech, sexual violence, human trafficking, slavery and other forms of human abuse related content – or prevent it" — Wahhab Hassoo, Yazidi activist

Hassoo and fellow Yazidi activists compiled a report that urged the United States and other nations to probe the role social media platforms, including Facebook and YouTube, played in crimes against their minority Yazidi community...

[The Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Meta to respond to these allegations; it did not.]