Picture Courtesy: Pete Marovich
In Sri Lanka and Myanmar, Facebook kept up posts that it had been warned contributed to violence. In India, activists have urged the company to combat posts by political figures targeting Muslims. And in Ethiopia, groups pleaded for the social network to block hate speech after hundreds were killed in ethnic violence inflamed by social media.
“The offline troubles that rocked the country are fully visible on the online space,” activists, civil society groups and journalists in Ethiopia wrote in an open letter last year.
For years, Facebook and Twitter have largely rebuffed calls to remove hate speech or other comments made by public figures and government officials that civil society groups and activists said risked inciting violence. The companies stuck to policies, driven by American ideals of free speech, that give such figures more leeway to use their platforms to communicate.
But last week, Facebook and Twitter cut off President Trump from their platforms for inciting a crowd that attacked the U.S. Capitol. Those decisions have angered human rights groups and activists, who are now urging the companies to apply their policies evenly, particularly in smaller countries where the platforms dominate communications.
David Kaye, a law professor and former United Nations monitor for freedom of expression, said political figures in India, the Philippines, Brazil and elsewhere deserved scrutiny for their behavior online. But he said the actions against Mr. Trump raised difficult questions about how the power of American internet companies was applied, and if their actions set a new precedent to more aggressively police speech around the world.
“The question going forward is whether this is a new kind of standard they intend to apply for leaders worldwide, and do they have the resources to do it?” Mr. Kaye said. “There is going to be a real increase in demand to do this elsewhere in the world.”
Facebook, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp, is the world’s largest social network, with more than 2.7 billion monthly users; more than 90 percent of them live outside the United States. The company declined to comment, but has said the actions against Mr. Trump stem from his violation of existing rules and do not represent a new global policy according to NYT.
Tech Giants Lose Shares over $51 Billion For The Same Reason
Days after social media giants Facebook and Twitter banned US President Donald Trump from their platforms, the companies lost a combined market value of whopping $51.2 billion over two trading sessions. In the aftermath of the riots, Twitter and Facebook resorted to ‘political censorship’ and banned Trump for allegedly inciting mobs and making provocative remarks. The social media giants soon faced the brunt of censoring the US President.