Global South coalition tells Facebook: Be fair, accountable

Camille Elemia

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Global South coalition tells Facebook: Be fair, accountable
'Commitments and apologies will no longer cut it and these specific demands are merely the first steps in holding Facebook accountable for its actions,' says a coalition from the Global South

MANILA, Philippines – Following the probe into Facebook’s role in the US elections, a coalition demanded scrutiny into the company’s alleged involvement in “abetting human rights abuses” and “spreading misinformation” in developing countries. (READ: How Facebook algorithms impact democracy)

The coalition, formed on the sidelines of RightsCon2018 in Toronto, Canada, slammed Facebook’s lack of action to address the problems it emboldened in developing nations, as well as its “reckless push for expansion” in these countries. 

Members of the group come from Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, India, Syria, the Philippines, and Ethiopia. (READ: Fake accounts, manufactured reality on social media)

“Countries outside of North America and Europe represent 72% of Facebook’s daily users. Between them, the coalition countries include the world largest democracy, the first social media-enabled genocide, state-sponsored troll armies, and the devastation of the Syrian war. In each of our countries Facebook has been weaponized by bad actors against our citizens. In each case Facebook has failed to put adequate protections into practice,” the coalition said in a statement after a #DearMark press conference.

The hashtag #DearMark refers to the letters written by various groups to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Through these #DearMark letters, critics have voiced their dismay about social media “being used to shrink democracies across the world,” said the group’ press release.

“While each of our countries has its unique contexts, the failure of Facebook to address these systemic issues has been remarkably consistent. It is critical that Facebook respect the fundamental principle of equality on their platform, and work diligently to defend the rights of users regardless of the market in which they reside. In our experience these principles are applied selectively, if at all,” it added.

Representatives of the coalition earlier met with Facebook and asked the latter to take 3 concrete steps to address these “urgent needs”: (READ: Propaganda war: Weaponizing the internet)

  1. a public re-commitment to parity of service and enforcement of standards across all countries Facebook operates in
  2. independent third party human rights audits to be carried out in each country in which Facebook operates examining its processes across all of its products
  3. sustained transparency around specific processes and performance benchmarks disaggregated by country and context

“Facebook has made commitments on these issues in the past, and they have issued apologies for failing to meet these commitments in the past. Commitments and apologies will no longer cut it and these specific demands are merely the first steps in holding Facebook accountable for its actions. The need of the hour is parity, transparency and accountability. Nothing less will be acceptable. These issues are not going away and neither are we,” the group said. – Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.