A US-based Muslim advocacy group filed a court petition against the social media giant on Thursday, claiming the company has failed to police derogatory anti-Muslim content.
A Muslim advocacy group filed a lawsuit against Facebook in Washington, challenging both its CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg.
The group says the social media company has failed to remove anti-Muslim comments and posts which violate Facebook's “Community Standards.”
"Every day, ordinary people are bombarded with harmful content in violation of Facebook's own policies on hate speech, bullying, harassment, dangerous organizations, and violence," the lawsuit wrote.
Although Facebook’s executives have maintained that its Community Standards make the platform clean and free from any hateful content, the Muslim civil rights group said that "hateful, anti-Muslim attacks are especially pervasive on Facebook."
According to the social media site’s civil rights audit report, published in July 2020, the Christchurch attack, which killed 51 Muslim worshippers in March 2019 “was an inflection point for the Muslim community and its relationship to Facebook".
It said that "the community’s concerns with Facebook existed long before and extend beyond that tragedy.“
“From the organization of events designed to intimidate members of the Muslim community at gathering places, to the prevalence of content demonizing Islam and Muslims, and the use of Facebook Live during the Christchurch massacre, civil rights advocates have expressed alarm that Muslims feel under siege on Facebook — and have criticized Facebook for not doing enough to address it,” the report added.
A group of Democratic senators sent a letter in November to Zuckerberg calling for more action in preventing anti-Muslim bigotry.
However, in response, a Facebook official said the social media company does already work towards making the platform free of hate speech.
"We do not allow hate speech on Facebook and regularly work with experts, non-profits, and stakeholders to help make sure Facebook is a safe place for everyone, recognizing anti-Muslim rhetoric can take different forms," the official told Bloomberg News.
Muslim rights groups have underlined online hate speech has “disastrous real-world consequences”.
Facebook has been used by extremist and supremacist groups for a range of reasons, from launching the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, to killing Muslims in India and fuelling anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka.
In the US, armed anti-Muslim protests have been organised on Facebook’s event pages.
The mosque massacre in New Zealand was live-streamed on Facebook and shared an untold number of times worldwide via the same platform.
“If Facebook’s executives had enforced their own Community Standards and policies as they promised, a significant amount of the anti-Muslim hate and real-world damage could have been avoided,” the lawsuit said.
The US-based Muslim advocacy group seeks a court declaration against Facebook and compensation for monetary losses Muslims may have incurred.