The US Commission on International Religious Freedom has warned that Facebook is not doing enough to protect Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar from hate speech.
The independent Federal Council criticized the social media giant in a report entitled “Protecting Online Religious Freedom” on Friday, which called on online speech regulators to respect the right to religious expression more broadly.
The six-page report stated that Facebook had “failed to resolve the incitement of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar”, calling it an example of the social media giant’s “underreaction”.
Myanmar’s military repression of Rohingya Muslims in 2017, including mass killings and rapes, forced more than 700,000 Rohingya into exile to neighboring Bangladesh. The refugee crisis and reported Rohingya attacks continue to this day, and human rights organizations call it genocide.
Meta, Facebook’s parent company, did not immediately respond to the Washington Times’ request for comment.
The report on Friday pointed out that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was a document adopted by the United Nations in 1976 to protect freedom of speech and freedom of religion or belief. When religious free speech is classified as “hate speech” by those who oppose the opinions expressed, conflicts arise.
The document stated: “Maintaining high thresholds for restricting speech is essential to protecting freedom of speech and religious freedom.” Incitement to genocide must be regulated, but the government “cannot require social media companies to restrict expression that the state itself cannot directly prohibit,” it said. .
Among the recommendations in the report, USCIRF suggested that the federal government should publicly point out in bilateral talks and the State Department’s annual report on international religious freedom that “foreign governments abuse social media to create a hostile environment for religious freedom and freedom of speech.”
Institutions should “propagate anti-speech” on the US government’s social media accounts to combat hate speech, and fund plans to develop an “early warning mechanism” against hate speech.
“The U.S. government can also play an important role in ensuring that social media companies protect human rights and religious freedom,” the fact sheet pointed out and urged the United States to cooperate with other governments to promote social media companies’ compliance with international human rights laws.