It has ‘blood on its hands, say demonstrators from various religious backgrounds in Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco’s Menlo Park, where the company is headquartered
WASHINGTON – Hundreds of people of different faiths, professions and backgrounds gathered in eight major US cities on Saturday and Sunday to protest Facebook allowing hate speech to be freely posted in India, resulting in persecution, physical attacks and killings of Muslims and Christians.
The protests, organised by India Genocide Watch, featured speakers demanding that Facebook’s founder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg end his company’s complicity in extreme Hindu right-wing incitement to violence, proliferating on Facebook and WhatsApp, as exposed by whistleblower Frances Haugen.
Protest demonstrations, that also included women and children, were held in Atlanta, Chicago, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle and San Francisco’s Menlo Park, where Facebook is headquartered. Many of the protesters, who can never return to India, have family in India who are targets of state-sanctioned persecution, discrimination and physical violence.
Rasheed Ahmed, Executive Director of the Indian American Muslim Council, demanded that Facebook designate Rashtriya Swayamasevak Sangh and its affiliates as dangerous organisations.
At a protest at Menlo Park in California, outside the global headquarters of Meta, the new name for Facebook, Inc., Javid Ali of Bay Muslims for Human Rights, said, “Facebook deliberately and knowingly refused to block Islamophobic hate enabling fascist violence against India’s Muslims. Facebook has blood on its hands.”
Added Karthic of Ambedkar King Study Circle, “The algorithms used in Facebook are biased against the religious minorities and the socially oppressed. We
condemn Facebook for failing to fix these proven issues.”
As protesters braved the rain to march to Facebook’s office in Seattle chanting “Facebook Hatebook,” Kshama Sawant, a member of the Seattle City Council, said, “Companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Amazon are participants… in the state forces of bigotry, hate, religions and caste oppressions.”
Hira Singh Bhullar of Khalsa Gurmat Center, a Sikh NGO, added: “This hate is coming from politicians promoting hate. Shame on Facebook.” Said Javed Sikander, a Muslim activist: “The hatred is destroying the fabric of Indian society.”
At Charlotte, North Carolina, protester Elyas Mohammed said, “Facebook provided a platform for the right-wing hate-mongering elements to flourish. Had it taken stringent action on fake accounts things could have been different.”
Shakeib Mashhood, a protester at Houston, Texas, said: “Facebook is becoming a tool to spread hate in India, which is very outrageous. More concerning is that Facebook knew that this was happening but it did not take any action. They did not block it.”
At Chicago, Syed Shoaib Qadri said, “We want accountability from Facebook for its criminal behavior.”
Added Musaddique Thange, a protester at San Diego, California, “Facebook is enabling inflammatory and violent rhetoric against Muslims in India and around the world. Facebook should designate RSS, Bajrang Dal and all its affiliates as dangerous and terrorist organizations.”
Zameer Khan, organizer of the Atlanta protest, declared: “Public protests and demonstrations are needed to begin to galvanize the American people and politicians especially into taking action against Facebook for poor management of its social media platform.”
Some of the posters and placards held up by marchers said: Facebook enables racism; Facebook enables fascism; Facebook undermines democracies; Facebook promotes islamophobia; Facebook failed its users
Facebook stalling Report on hate speech
An article in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal quoted human rights advocates as accusing Facebook of stalling its report on steps it is taking to identify and delete hate speech. Detailed coverage in Washington Post, New York Times, and Associated Press have quoted extensively from whistleblower Haugen’s submissions to the US Securities & Exchange Commission and other documents to reveal how Facebook knowingly allowed anti-Muslim hate speech and incitement to violence to proliferate in India.