For a long time now I have sounded warnings about how Facebook security needed to take serious action against data integrity vulnerabilities.
In 2019 I wrote a detailed explanation of how the Chief Security Officer had been shooting messengers since at least 2016, showing an institutional habit of leadership inaction on genocide.
Now the results of those crucial years of inaction are being exposed yet again, which begs a question how quickly can the platform be shut down and the ex-officers held accountable.
…parallels between Facebook’s role in the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. “What we saw in Myanmar and are now seeing in Ethiopia are only the opening chapters of a story so terrifying, no one wants to read the end of it…”
Not just Myanmar and Ethiopia. Here’s the hate speech and misinformation report from India:
The account was soon inundated with hate speech, misinformation, and posts glorifying violence, according to the New York Times. “Following this test user’s news feed, I’ve seen more images of dead people in the past three weeks than I’ve seen in my entire life total,” the researcher wrote. Although Facebook has been operating in India since 2006… only added systems to detect incitement and violence in both languages this year.
Philippines has this report on slavery:
…Facebook’s products — its flagship platform, Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp — were all used in the labor trafficking industry, and that the company lacked “robust proactive detection methods … of domestic servitude in English and Tagalog to prevent recruitment.”
Several countries across the Middle East as well as Vietnam reported similarly that Facebook became a clumsy tool of blanket oppression and exploitation:
…suppression of speech in Palestine, as well as in other countries such as Afghanistan and Syria, where the company instituted blanket bans for common words and erased content that did not violate the platform’s guidelines… government trolls weaponized Facebook’s own systems for reporting abuse to deplatform activists, journalists, and members of civil society, some of whom were later arrested.
None of this is really news, for anyone paying attention. What hasn’t made it to the news yet is the analysis I provided in 2019; how these predictable failures stemmed from a particular officer’s inaction that facilitated atrocity crimes.
People may be outraged to hear that Facebook chose to not take “enough” action (their own words) despite knowing its role increasing tensions towards civil war in Ethiopia:
The report, distributed in March, said that armed groups in Ethiopia were using the platform to incite violence against ethnic minorities in the “context of civil war.”
However, this points us back to 2016 when arguably Facebook played an outsized role destabilizing the American elections: “abused by a variety of actors, including politicians, to incite discrimination and violence”.
In 2021 we’re seeing bold calls for civil war circulated in American social media. It’s not new, it’s just reported better now.