Facebook’s parent company Meta sued for fueling ethnic violence in Ethiopia
US technology company Meta, the parent company of Facebook, was sued on Wednesday in Kenya for allegedly encouraging hate speech, inciting ethnic conflict in Ethiopia and East Africa.
The lawsuit, filed by two Ethiopian researchers and the Kenya's Katiba Institute rights group, alleges that Facebook's recommendations systems amplified violent posts in Ethiopia, including several that preceded the murder of the father of one of the researchers.
The case is also supported by a raft of NGOs across Africa, including Global witness, Article 19, the Law Society of Kenya, and Amnesty International, among others.
According to the lawsuit, Meta neglected to take adequate precautions on Facebook, which encouraged hateful content and exacerbated tensions around Ethiopia’s deadly Tigray conflict.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to order Meta to take emergency steps to demote violent content, increase moderation staff in Nairobi and create restitution funds of about $2 billion for global victims of violence incited on Facebook.
This is not the first time Facebook has been called out for its inability to moderate its content adequately.
The Whistleblower Frances Haugen previously accused Facebook of fanning ethnic violence in Ethiopia.
Also, the findings of an investigation carried out by Global Witness in collaboration with the legal nonprofit Foxglove, and the independent researcher Dagim Afework Mekonnen revealed Facebook’s negligence in identifying hate speech in the official language of Ethiopia.