Meta sued billions for fuelling the flames of Ethiopia’s war

The social media giant and owner of Facebook, Meta, is being sued for R35 billion ($2 billion) for amplifying Ethiopia’s civil war.

Meta has been accused of letting hateful and violent content thrive on the platform, fuelling attacks during the two years of the Tigray War, which came to a truce in November.

The case has been filed by Ethiopian researchers Abrham Meareg and Fisseha Tekle from Amnesty International, together with Kenyan human rights group the Katiba Institute, Reuters reports.

The human rights groups want Meta to set up a $2 billion fund for victims of hate on Facebook, make changes to the platform’s algorithm, and hire more local-language moderators.

Meareg is the son of Ethiopian chemistry professor Meareg Amare Abrha, who was followed home by armed men on motorbikes and shot dead in November.

Meareg told the BBC that his father, who was a well-known member of the Tigray community, was shot and killed after a spate of hate speech and disinformation attacking him spread on Facebook.

“If Facebook had just stopped the spread of hate and moderated posts properly, my father would still be alive,” he said.

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Facebook had moderated harmful content in the past. For example, a November 2021 Facebook post by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed was accused of having incited violence by asking people to “bury rebels”. Ahmed’s post was removed rapidly.

Meta said in a blogpost that it has been “implementing a comprehensive strategy to keep people in the country safe on our platform”.

The company also said that it has classified Ethiopia as a “temporary high risk location” and that it has taken action to moderate content, including removing posts that violate its policies.

Compiled by Kamogelo Olaitan

Pictured above: Protests in Ethiopia

 Image source: BBC

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