A coalition of activists from eight countries, including India and Myanmar, has called on Facebook to put in place a transparent and consistent approach to moderation. In a statement issued on Friday, the coalition demanded civil rights and political bias audits into Facebook’s role in abetting human rights abuses, spreading misinformation and manipulation of democratic processes in their respective countries.
Besides India and Myanmar, the other countries that the activists represent are Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, the Philippines, Syria and Ethiopia. The demands raised by the group bear significance as Facebook has come under fire for its failure stop the deluge of hate-filled posts against the disenfranchised Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.
The social media giant is also facing criticism for its role in enabling political manipulation in several countries around the world. The new coalition comes less than two months after activist groups in Myanmar sent a public letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg calling for greater transparency, The Verge reported on Friday.
“Many of the countries here have been engaged with Facebook for years to try to receive justice in our communities,” one of the activists Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Executive Director of Equality Labs, was quoted as saying. Equality Labs is a South Asian organization that aims to end the oppression of marginalized communities.
“And what we’re finding is that Facebook has different standards for different markets,” Soundararajan said. The is despite the fact that countries outside of North America and Europe represent 72 per cent of Facebook’s daily users, the activists said. The coalition calls into question Facebook’s usual approach of tackling moderation issues on a country-by-country basis.
“The point of siloing moderation out across different countries is to set different benchmarks as to what they’re willing to change,” Soundararajan said. In Sri Lanka, activists argued that the lack of local moderators — specifically moderators fluent in the Sinhalese language spoken by the country’s Buddhist majority — had allowed hate speech run wild on the platform, The Verge report said.
The coalition particularly demanded parity of service from Facebook, independent human rights audits to examine the social media giant’s processes and products, and sustained transparency around specific processes.