Meta’s toxic algorithm ‘contributed significantly’ to ethnic cleansing in Myanmar: Amnesty International

Hundreds of Rohingya cross the Bangladesh border as they flee from Buchidong, Myanmar, on September 7, 2017, as they cross the Nuf River Shah near Teknaf in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, September 7, 2017 Porir Dwip Island.

Hundreds of Rohingya cross the Bangladesh border as they flee from Buchidong, Myanmar, on September 7, 2017, as they cross the Nuf River Shah near Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, September 7, 2017 Porir Dwip Island.
photo: STR (Associated Press)

One new report This week’s article from Amnesty International delves into the atrocities committed by Myanmar’s security forces against the Rohingya, facilitated by Facebook, in 2017, when more than 25,000 people were estimated to have been killed.

The 74-page report describes Mehta’s role, makes an argument for compensation to meet the educational needs of affected populations, and describes a litany of suffering suffered by Myanmar’s Rohingya over the past five years in the context of another half-century. human rights violations. Worthy of systemic persecution and apartheid rule.

Assessing Meta’s contribution to the genocide — which Amnesty International considers significant — the report finds Facebook’s “content-shaping algorithms” directly contributed to killings and other abuses, even as the company moved from helping Myanmar’s government lay divisive, hateful content Profits from the surge set the stage for an army-led campaign of ethnic cleansing.

“The mass dissemination of messages promoting hatred, incitement to violence and discrimination against Rohingya, as well as other inhumane and discriminatory anti-Rohingya content, has added fuel to long-standing discrimination and has greatly increased outbreaks on a large scale. risk of violence,” the team said.

In late 2016, Myanmar’s security forces launched a series of brutal crackdowns in the country’s poorest Rakhine state, where many Rohingya were forced to live in often flooded slums.Documented widespread human rights abuses — beatings, murders, rapes, arbitrary arrests and slavery — while satellite Images were captured of thousands of homes burned by security forces.killings and other atrocities, many perpetrated by militants Buddhist nationalists escalated, sparking a counter-attack by rebels in early 2017.

The Myanmar military responded by launching what it euphemistically called Operation Clearance, a genocidal campaign that included the use of battlefield decrees such as mortar weapons, helicopter gunships and landmines.

Survivors interviewed by human rights groups, including Amnesty International, described widespread torture and rape by security forces, deliberately burning villages and crops in order to starve those who were not beaten or shot. In 2017 alone, more than 700,000 people were displaced, most of whom fled to Bangladesh in malicious attacks, forming the largest refugee camp in the world today.

Amnesty Report – Social brutality: Meta and the Rohingya’s right to a remedy — Extensive documentation of the role of social media and Facebook in disseminating a wealth of content that helped radical Buddhist nationalists persecute and dehumanize the Rohingya. “We used to live peacefully with other ethnic groups in Myanmar,” Mohamed Ayas, a Rohingya teacher, told Amnesty International. “Their intentions are good for the Rohingya, but the government is against us. The public used to follow their religious leaders, so when the religious leaders and the government started spreading hate speech on Facebook, people’s thinking changed.”

Agnès Callamard, secretary-general of Amnesty International, said: “Facebook’s algorithm was fueling a storm of hatred against Rohingya in the months and years leading up to the atrocities, fueling a real-world “When the Myanmar military committed crimes against humanity against the Rohingya, Meta was profiting from the echo chambers of hate created by its hate spiral algorithm.”

Callamard said the company must be held accountable. She said it had a duty to “provide reparations to all those who have suffered the consequences of violence as a result of reckless behaviour.”

Amnesty International said there were “innumerable” hate speeches on the platform aimed at dehumanizing the Rohingya. Most notoriously, Myanmar military leader Min Aung Hlaing, who seized power for himself in last year’s coup, wrote in a September 2017 post: “We have publicly declared that our country is absolutely free of the Rohingya race. .”

It took Meta nearly a year to suspend his account.

The dehumanization of the Rohingya is considered an important step on the road to their genocide. Mainly, it helped the government convince the Myanmar military to carry out the killings and helped gain acceptance, if not participation, by the wider public.In this regard, the report quoted international human rights lawyer Chris Sidoti as saying: “Dehumanization enables human beings to [the victim] Below human level, which justifies their killing. This means that setting fire to a house with women and children is nothing more than pouring gasoline into an ant nest. “

Amnesty International said Mehta’s contribution to the dehumanization of the Rohingya was significant. While the company has long denied this, human rights groups are just one of many experts who have long argued that Facebook’s benefits come directly from engagement driven by divisive and inflammatory content. “Ultimately, this is because Meta’s business model is based on intrusive analytics and targeted advertising that facilitates the spread of harmful content, including incitement to violence,” the report said. “The algorithmic systems that shape the user’s experience on Facebook and determine what information they see are designed to keep people on the platform — the more engaged the user, the more ad revenue Meta will earn.”


For decades, the Rohingya have been marginalized, oppressed and brutalized. They are today considered one of the most persecuted people in the world – if not the worst.Although their situation is often reduced to a by-product in the press Religious Conflictsmore aptly described as a struggle for one’s identity.

Historians often link the arrival of the Rohingya in Akan (the historical name for Rakhine State in western Myanmar) to the region’s annexation by the British Empire in the mid-1820s. This period was marked by the influx of worker migrants from what is today India and Bangladesh. Nonetheless, the Rohingya are indigenous peoples with cultural and even genealogical ties to the Arakan Muslims who first appeared in the region thousands of years ago: their culture, religion and language differ from the country’s major ethnic groups; Dispossessed, murdered and virtually stateless, they maintained strong territorial ties; and, most importantly, they identified themselves as an indigenous group.

However, to successive Myanmar governments, the Rohingya are nothing more than foreigners, and even unlike Myanmar’s Muslim ethnic groups such as Kalam, who have been persecuted for a long time, they are also recognized as one of the country’s “ethnic groups”.

Religion, however, remains an important factor, even if the conflicts it sparks are primarily colonial provocations. Namely, Japan’s invasion of British Burma during World War II became the main driving force behind decades of bloody conflict between Arakan Buddhists and Muslims – the latter recruited by their British overseers, while the former sided with Japan , ostensibly to gain its own independence.

Tens of thousands of people on both sides of the conflict were killed, raped and tortured in the 1942 massacre. Two decades later, Myanmar’s independent, fledgling government will fall into the hands of a military junta, laying the groundwork for decades of state-sponsored violence and discrimination. In 1974, the Ne Win government officially recognized Rakhine Buddhists as legal residents of the state. At the same time, Rohingya have been given the degraded status of “resident foreigners” and even denied the right to self-identify as Rohingya.

Officially calling them “Bengali,” another tool to reinforce the criminal, intruder-immigrant brand imposed on them.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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