Meta releases first human rights report

Published on Jul 15, 2022 04:28 AM IST

Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have demanded the release of the India assessment in full, accusing Meta of stalling.

Woman holds smartphone with Facebook logo in front of a displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration picture (REUTERS File Photo)
Woman holds smartphone with Facebook logo in front of a displayed Facebook's new rebrand logo Meta in this illustration picture (REUTERS File Photo)

New Delhi: Facebook-owner Meta released its first human rights report on Thursday, including the summary findings of an impact assessment it commissioned a law firm to conduct in India, which found the company’s products possibly being used for hate speech and violation of people’s privacy and their security.

The report, a larger Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA), follows years of accusations that the company turned a blind eye to online abuses that fuelled real-world violence. Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have demanded the release of the India assessment in full, accusing Meta of stalling.

The Human Rights Impact Assessment in the context of India, carried out by law firm Foley Hoag, found the company’s products to be “connected to salient human rights risks caused by third parties”.

In other words, Facebook services were likely used for human rights abuses such as, the report added, “advocacy of hatred that incites hostility, discrimination and violence”, violations of “rights to non-discrimination”, as well as “violations of rights to privacy and security of person”.

“It (the India assessment) stated Meta faced criticism and potential reputational risks related to risks of hateful or discriminatory speech by end users.” Meta added. Overall, the HRIA did not cover “accusations of bias in content moderation”, the company said.

In its report, Meta said it was studying the India recommendations but did not commit to implementing them as it did with other rights assessments.

Asked about the difference, Meta Human Rights director Miranda Sissons pointed to United Nations guidelines cautioning against risks to “affected stakeholders, personnel or to legitimate requirements of commercial confidentiality”, Reuters reported.

“The format of the reporting can be influenced by a variety of factors, including security reasons,” Sissons told Reuters.

Sissons, who joined the company in 2019, said her team is now comprised of 8 people, while about 100 others work on human rights with related teams.

Former Facebook officials, who quit the company and blew the whistle on some of the company’s controversial practices and policies, have in the past released documents or information suggesting the company knew about the harms its products caused in India

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