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Facebook sued by a Muslim Civil Rights group for making "false and deceptive" claims about removing hate speech

Facebook sued by a Muslim Civil Rights group
A civil rights group in the United States has sued Facebook, alleging that CEO Mark Zuckerberg made "false and misleading" claims when he said that the company had deleted hate speech. 

The group has filed a lawsuit against Facebook and its executives, alleging that CEO Mark Zuckerberg made "false and misleading" claims to Congress as he said that the social media giant removed hate speech and any content that breaches its guidelines.

According to the case which was filed in Washington, D.C. Superior Court on Thursday (April 8, 2021), Zuckerberg and other top executives "conducted a concerted effort to persuade the media, local officials, government officials, and non-profit leaders in the nation's capital that Facebook is a protected commodity."

The lawsuit cites research by Megan Squire of Elon University, who published research on anti-Muslim groups on Facebook and cautioned the company.

According to the lawsuit, Facebook did not remove the parties, but it did alter how outside academics can reach its website, making it difficult for Squire's analysis to be conducted by someone other than Facebook employees. 

Targeting an individual or group with dehumanising rhetoric or images is prohibited under Facebook's hate speech policies. Calls for abuse, references to sub-humanity and inferiority, and generalisations that state inferiority are all examples of this. 

However, according to the complaint, on (April 25, 2018), Squire reported a group named Purge Worldwide on Facebook. This is an anti-Islamic forum with a place to exchange information on what's going on in your part of the world, according to the group's definition. 

Facebook replied that neither the group nor the information would be removed. Other groups with names like Death to Murdering Islamic Muslim Cult Members and Filth of Islam that Facebook did not delete after being informed, despite Facebook policies prohibiting reference or comparison to filth on the grounds of faith, according to the complaint. 

In the above example, Facebook removed some of the group's content but not the whole group.

The complaint also mentions an adjustment made by Facebook to its policy for former President Donald Trump after he wrote as a candidate in 2016 about barring all Muslims from entering the United States. 

Zuckerberg and other social media leaders have spoken to Congress on several occasions about their efforts to fight extremism, hatred, and disinformation on their sites. The topic is complex, Zuckerberg told the House Energy and Commerce Committee. "Any system will make errors when it comes to removing harmful content," he said.

The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial and $1,500 in damages per breach (roughly Rs. 1.12 lakhs).


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