Amendment calls for social media companies to reduce threat of online hate speech leading to offline violence


Washington (June 26, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia Subcommittee, today praised passage of his amendment to S.Res.34, which expresses support for the rights and dignities of the Rohingya people following mass atrocities and persecution committed by the Burmese military. Senator Markey’s amendment calls on Facebook, which remains the most widely used social media tool in Burma, and other technology companies to take greater steps to mitigate the risks of their platforms being used for the promotion of violence and discrimination against Rohingya and other ethnic minorities in Burma.


“Facebook is failing in its efforts to mitigate the threat of hate speech toward the Rohingya,” said Senator Markey. “The United Nations and a number of organizations have drawn a link between dangerous online speech and violence against the Rohingya. Despite its stated efforts, Facebook can and should do more to address these threats, particularly in the lead up to next year’s elections in Burma. I thank Senator Merkley, Chairman Risch, and Ranking Member Menendez for their partnership to ensure we send a strong message to social media firms on their responsibility to prevent attacks against Burma’s minorities.”


A copy of Senator Markey’s amendment can be found HERE.


In February, Senator Markey questioned Facebook’s decision to ban three ethnic armed groups from its platform, noting that the decision would “prevent these groups from engaging with ethnic civil society, government negotiators, international observers (including the United States) facilitating the peace process, and international humanitarian groups accessing areas under their control, isolating them from any national reconciliation efforts.” During an April 2 hearing of the East Asia subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a noted Rohingya activist stated that Facebook has never reached out to him to consult on how online hate speech is threatening the Rohingya community.