Facebook hit with lawsuit over Ethiopia conflict


Facebook offices

from MARIA MACHARIA in Nairobi, Kenya
Kenya Bureau
NAIROBI, (CAJ News) – META, which runs Facebook, has been slapped with a landmark US$1,6 billion lawsuit after the latter allegedly amplified hatred and fuelled ethnic conflict in Ethiopia.

The lawsuit against the social media giant has been lodged in Kenya.

The legal action claims that Meta promoted speech that led to ethnic violence and killings in Ethiopia by utilizing an algorithm that prioritizes and recommends hateful and violent content on Facebook.

The petitioners seek to stop Facebook’s algorithms from recommending such content to Facebook users and compel Meta to create a 200 billion ($1,6 billion) victims’ fund.

Amnesty International joins six other human rights and legal organisations as interested parties in the case.

“The spread of dangerous content on Facebook lies at the heart of Meta’s pursuit of profit, as its systems are designed to keep people engaged,” said Flavia Mwangovya, Amnesty International’s Deputy Regional Director of East Africa, Horn, and Great Lakes Region.

“This legal action is a significant step in holding Meta to account for its harmful business model,” Mwangovya added.

One of Amnesty’s staff members in the region was allegedly targeted as a result of posts on the social media platform.

Fisseha Tekle, legal advisor at Amnesty International, noted that in Ethiopia, the people rely on social media for news and information.

“Because of the hate and disinformation on Facebook, human rights defenders have also become targets of threats and vitriol,” the law expert stated.

“I saw first-hand how the dynamics on Facebook harmed my own human rights work and hope this case will redress the imbalance,” Tekle said.

Another petitioner, Abraham Meareg, is said to fear for his safety and is seeking asylum in the United States.

Earlier, Facebook faced more woes in Kenya after Global Witness revealed that the social media giant had failed to detect hate-speech ads in the run-up to the general election in August.

– CAJ News


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