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Meta sued for $2 billion for inciteful post in Ethiopia

One of those initiating the case against Meta is Abraham Meareg, the son of an Ethiopian academic who was shot dead after being abused in Facebook messages.

Both a $2 billion (£1.6 billion) fund for victims of hate crimes on Facebook and adjustments to the algorithm are demanded. According to Meta, it extensively invested in technology and moderation to combat hate. Hate speech and the instigation of violence, according to a spokesman, are prohibited on the site.

The official stated, “Feedback from local civil society organizations and foreign institutions is used to influence our safety- and integrity-related work in Ethiopia.

Campaign organization Foxglove is in favour of the case, which was brought before Kenya’s High Court. 400,000 additional people are currently experiencing the same circumstances as a result of the conflict between the Ethiopian government and forces in the northern Tigray region.

Although a sudden peace agreement was reached last month, ethnically motivated killings between Amhara- and Oromo-speaking groups have increased recently.

The father of Mr. Meareg perished in the country’s conflict last year. Prof. Meareg Amare Abrha was shot at close range while attempting to enter the family house on November 3, 2021, after being trailed home from his institution by armed men on motorcycles.

As he lay bleeding, bystanders were barred from helping because of threats from his attackers, according to his son. Seven hours later, while he lay on the ground, he passed away. His son claims that before the incident, Facebook posts defamed him and exposed personal information about him.

Facebook’s reporting feature was frequently used to file concerns, but the social media site “never removed these posts until it was too late.” After the death of his father, one was taken out. As of December 8, 2022, another that the platform had promised to take down was still available. My father would still be present today if Facebook had only curbed the propagation of hate and properly vetted messages, Mr. Meareg claimed.

As well as “a personal apology” from Meta, he said he wanted to make sure no other family experienced the same suffering as his. Mr. Meareg claims in a sworn affidavit submitted to the court that Facebook’s algorithm encourages “hateful and inciting” information because it is more likely to generate user interaction.

Additionally, he asserts that Facebook’s content filtering in Africa is “woefully inefficient,” as there aren’t enough moderators to handle posts in the important Amharic, Oromo, and Tigrinya languages.

“We employ personnel with local knowledge and expertise and continue to enhance our capacities to catch inappropriate content in the most widely spoken languages in the nation, including Amharic, Oromo, Somali, and Tigrinya,” said Meta, the company that owns Facebook, in a statement to BBC News.

Despite the fact that less than 10% of the population uses Facebook, it insists that Ethiopia is a top priority and lists the efforts it has made as follows:
Lowering the virality of messages, enhancing enforcement, and increasing laws against violence and incitement.