Sunday, June 4, 2023

Facebook owner Meta releases first human rights report

Facebook owner Meta released its first annual human rights report on Thursday, after years of allegations that it turned a blind eye to online abuses fueling real-world violence in places like India and Myanmar.

The report, which covers due diligence conducted in 2020 and 2021, includes a summary of a controversial human rights impact assessment of India that META commissioned law firm Foley Hogg to conduct.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, in a joint letter sent in January called for a full release of India’s assessment, accusing META of stalling.

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In its summary, Meta said the law firm had noted the potential for “main human rights risks” involving Meta’s platforms, including “advocacy of hate that incites hostility, discrimination or violence.”

It said the assessment did not investigate “allegations of bias in content moderation”.

Rathik Ashokan, a representative for India Civil Watch International, who participated in the evaluation and later conducted the joint paper, told Reuters the summary struck him as an attempt by META to “whitewash” the firm’s findings. .

“This is as clear evidence as you can get that they are very uncomfortable with the information in that report,” he said. “At least show the courage to release an executive summary so we can see what the independent law firm has said.”

Human Rights Watch researcher Deborah Brown similarly called the summary “selective” and said it “does not bring us any closer” to understanding the company’s role in the spread of hate speech in India or its commitments to address the issue.

For many years rights groups have raised concerns about anti-Muslim hate speech in India, which is Meta’s largest worldwide market by number of users.

Meta’s top public policy executive in India stepped down in 2020 after a Wall Street Journal report that it opposed the imposition of company rules for Hindu nationalist figures flagged internally for promoting violence.

In its report, META said it was studying India’s recommendations but was not committed to implementing them as it did with other rights assessments.

When asked about the difference, Meta Human Rights director Miranda Sissons pointed to the UN guidelines cautioning against risks “to affected stakeholders, personnel or legitimate needs of commercial privacy”. .

“The format of reporting can be affected by a number of factors, including security reasons,” Sissons told Reuters.

Sissons, who joined Meta in 2019, said her team now consists of eight people, while about 100 others work on human rights with related teams.

In addition to the country-level assessment, the report outlined Meta’s COVID-19 response and his team’s work on Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses, including flagging potential privacy risks and impact on vulnerable groups.

Sissons said the analysis of augmented and virtual reality technologies, which Meta has prioritized with its bets on the “metaverse,” is happening extensively this year and will be discussed in subsequent reports.

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World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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