October 6, 2022

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Meta tries to ascertain its impact on society in its first human rights report

2 min read

Meta Platforms Inc. today released its first human rights report, an 83-page document that covers the years 2020 and 2021.

According to the Facebook parent company, the report includes “insights and actions from our human rights due diligence on products, countries, and responses to emerging crises.” Over the years, the company has been criticized for putting growth concerns over human impact concerns when it comes to policy, with the company accused of being used to stir up ill feeling toward minorities in various nations and allowing anger to foment in the US

“Our core principles include giving people a voice, inclusivity, privacy, safety, connection, community, and economic opportunity,” said Meta. “Putting these principles into practice helps people exercise their human rights.”

Much of the report detailed how the company tries to allow free speech to flourish while also cracking down on speech that might lead to violence. For instance, Meta agrees that in Myanmar, it “had not done enough to help prevent our platform from being used to foment division and incite offline violence.” Nevertheless, Meta says it has taken recommendations and tried to fix that.

As was pointed out by the Wall Street Journal today, one of the countries where Meta has been lambasted for having a terrible impact is India, where there are 300 million Facebook users and 400 million WhatsApp users. There is little doubt that Meta’s products in India have been used to escalate hatred and violence, yet the report today has been accused of “white-washing” the facts.

In India, Meta has also been accused at times of being pressured by the Indian government into taking down content by outspoken activists. In the report, Meta states, “The salient risk of government overreach and abuse in demanding user data from private technology companies was the starting point of Meta’s human rights journey.” It seems more work needs to be done in this regard, although the report says Meta is doing more to protect human rights defenders.

The report also analyzed the human risk that products such as Meta’s Ray-Ban Stories pose. Meta admits that the smart glasses may well be used to film people without their consent. Still, the company has worked with organizations to mitigate potential damage the glasses may have.

Photo: Dima Solomin/Unsplash

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