UN urges Facebook to ‘proactively’ fight hate speech

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The UN human rights chief urged Facebook Wednesday to more proactively address hate speech but warned against excessive regulation, after US President Donald Trump accused tech giants’ platforms of bias against him.

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s appeal follows a decision by Facebook this week to ban Myanmar’s army chief and other top military brass named in a UN probe linking them to a possible “genocide” against Rohingya Muslims.

The social media network is the prime source of news and information for many in the country, but has also been a platform for the army and Buddhist hardliners to spread hate speech against the Rohingya and other minorities. Photo: facebook

The site aired support for the military’s bloody “clearance operations” last year that forced some 700,000 Rohingya over the border into Bangladesh.

“We felt early on very uncomfortable with what we were seeing in Myanmar, (but) in the early meetings that we had with Facebook, I didn’t think they were taking it seriously,” said Zeid, who is due to step down from his post as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights at the end of the week.

“Hopefully they’ve now awoken,” he told reporters in Geneva, warning that there could easily be other cases “where Facebook is the dominant medium in a country where you see a deterioration of human rights conditions and then their role would be brought into question.”

He cautioned that the company should be “careful”, since it risked being subpoenaed in possible future trials “of those accused of the worst crimes.”

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