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Justice for Rohingya: Holding Facebook Accountable

The Tragic Consequence of Facebook’s Failures: A Rohingya Refugee’s Plea

In the quiet village of Nga Yent in western , a young Rohingya boy named Ali experienced a childhood filled with happiness and peace. Surrounded by lush mango, coconut, and banana trees, Ali and his family lived in a large house on a spacious compound. was idyllic, and communal violence was nonexistent. Despite being Muslim Rohingya in a predominantly Buddhist Rakhine community, Ali had many friends in the neighboring village, where they would often come together to play games and share laughter.

But today, that picturesque life remains nothing more than a distant for Ali. For the past six years, he has been living in a refugee camp called Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, alongside a million other displaced Rohingya people. The world’s largest settlement of its kind, Cox’s Bazar offers a stark contrast to the happy childhood Ali once knew. Overcrowded and lacking basic necessities like food and clean water, the camp is plagued by fires, killings, and a constant sense of .

Ali lays the blame for his people’s plight squarely on Facebook, its parent company Meta, and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. He argues that Facebook’s platform allowed anti-Rohingya sentiments to thrive and spread, ultimately fueling the violence perpetrated by the Myanmar military. Facebook’s algorithms promoted disinformation and hate that translated into real-life brutality against the Rohingya community.

While acknowledging the historically tense relations between the Rohingya and Rakhine communities, Ali the role that Facebook played in inflaming these tensions. From a young , Ali noticed the rise of hateful posts and messages targeting his people on Facebook. He reported these messages to the social media platform, only to be met with inaction and claims that the posts did not violate their community standards.

The consequences soon became devastatingly real. In late 2016, Ali’s own family fell victim to the hatred propagated on Facebook. His father and other financially stable Rohingya individuals were falsely accused of attacking a police station and faced exorbitant fines. Ali’s uncle and cousin were even arrested and imprisoned without trial. All the while, Facebook continued to allow hate speech to proliferate with impunity.

The turning point came on August 25, 2017, when violence erupted in Ali’s village. At only 15 years old, he witnessed the horrors of the military raid, gunshots ringing out, and the death of innocent community members. Amid the chaos, Ali and his family made the difficult decision to flee their home and embark on a perilous journey to Bangladesh. Along the way, they encountered the lifeless bodies of countless victims and faced hunger, exhaustion, and treacherous conditions.

Now, on the anniversary of that tragic day, Ali remains trapped in the Cox’s Bazar refugee camp. Despite hoping to become a lawyer one day, his dreams and those of many other young Rohingya are stifled by the lack of education opportunities in the camp. Ali pleads with Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and their associates to witness the conditions in Cox’s Bazar firsthand and take responsibility for the harm inflicted on his people. He implores them to provide funding for education and help rebuild the lives shattered by Facebook’s failures.

While Facebook cannot undo the or fully restore what has been lost, Ali believes that meaningful action is still possible. By investing in the education of young Rohingya individuals like himself, Zuckerberg and his company have a chance to make amends and contribute to a brighter future for the Rohingya people. It is the least they can do to rectify the harm they have caused.

As Ali’s heartfelt plea reaches the world, it serves as a powerful reminder of the responsibility that technology companies bear in preventing the spread of hate and misinformation. The tragic consequences of these failures should prompt us all to reflect on the impact of our actions, and to take immediate steps towards a more inclusive and compassionate digital future.

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