Muslim Advocates, a civil rights organization based in Washington, DC, in the United States, has repeatedly called on the social media giant to take more decisive actions on content displaying anti-Muslim bigotry and white supremacist content.
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Muslim Advocates is one of several civil rights organizations that have repeatedly called on Facebook to do more to eliminate anti-Muslim bigotry and white supremacist content. Shortly after the Capitol riot in January, the group urged Facebook to permanently eliminate President Donald Trump from the platform for spreading “white nationalist hate and conspiracy theories.”
The allegations say the company’s failure to enforce its own moderation policies has caused a wave of anti-Muslim abuse. The complaint, filed in superior court in Washington on Thursday, claims the world’s largest social network has consistently failed to remove content that violates its rules against hate speech, despite assuring lawmakers and other government officials that they abide by those policies.
The largest media giants such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google’s YouTube have usually avoided these lawsuits faulting them for not removing abusive content, resorting to a 1996 federal law that broadly protects internet platforms from liability for content posted by users.
In this particular case, the nonprofit group Muslim Advocates claims that Facebook breached a local consumer-protection law by falsely promising that the company would remove content that ran afoul of its moderation standards.
“Every day, ordinary people are bombarded with harmful content that violates Facebook’s own policies on hate speech, bullying, harassment, dangerous organizations, and violence,” according to the suit. “Hateful, anti-Muslim attacks are especially pervasive.”
In response to the allegations, a Facebook spokesperson stated: “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 spokesperson said the company invests in AI technologies to detect and remove hate speech on its platform.
Muslim Advocates says it presented Facebook in 2017 with a list of 26 groups whose pages violate the company’s community standards. As of this month, 18 of those 26 groups still had pages available on Facebook, according to the complaint.
The advocacy group is seeking monetary damages and a court declaration that Facebook broke the law in Washington.