Tech giants’ inaction over anti-Muslim social media tide creating ordeals

ISLAMABAD: The apparent unwillingness of social media tech-giants to permanently remove the conspiracist and racist online content on different platforms that are whipping up hatred against Muslims and their faith, has been creating inexplicable problems for the community worldwide.

It was also casting a chilling effect and prevented the Muslims from exercising their freedom of religion and speech online, the Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) said in its report.

The big tech’s continued failure to act on anti-Muslim hate created an ecosystem that restricted freedom of expression and pushes marginalised people off their platforms, all while allowing white supremacist, extremist, and hateful content to thrive and provide their shareholders with record profits, the report said.

The CCDH is a US non-profit corporation headquartered in Washington DC, and CCDH UK is a UK non-profit company headquartered in London.

According to different reports, Twitter, Google and Meta launched special efforts as part of a “shared commitment to counter hateful conduct online, however, they failed to control these materials.

Twitter failed to remove about 3.8 million anti-Muslim tweets (posted between Aug 19 and Aug 21) as it could only remove 15% of the tweets (0.57 million were taken down out of the total one).

The popular micro-blogging platform is fast becoming a primary source for the proliferation of anti-hate content against Muslims and their faith.

Users from the three countries including India generated 86 per cent of malicious online content in the last few years that led to physical attacks on Muslims and mosques across the globe, a study by Asian Peace said.

Now approximately 55.12% of anti-Muslim hatred tweets originated from Indian social media activists.

Researchers have identified several key themes churned out from three countries which included the association of Islam with terrorism, depiction of Muslims as perpetrators of sexual violence, and declaring “halal” as an inhumane practice that typifies the so-called “barbarity” of Islam.

On the other hand, the UN had strongly encouraged the international community to “take all necessary measures” to combat discrimination against Muslims while warning that anti-Muslim hatred has reached “epidemic proportions.”

In this connection, the UN had declared Anti-Islamophobia Day on March 15 due to the efforts of Pakistan which was a laudable step however, more desired to be done by the world and technological companies to stem surge of such trends worldwide.

As per a study by the Islamic Council of Victoria, Australia (ICV), a body representing Muslims in the state of Victoria with an estimated 270,000 Muslims as its member, found in its report that nearly four million anti-Muslim posts made during a 24-month period between 2017 and 2019.

In its report, ICV said that more causes for rise of such social media trends included the war on terror, media reporting, and right-wing groups and politicians across the globe, not just in the western countries but in places such as Myanmar and India, that spread false and malicious rhetoric to whip up anti-Muslim sentiment.

“These far-right groups are often networked and share information online to amplify their messages. In fact, much of the worst forms of Islamophobia and anti-Muslim incitement happens online,” it added.

Social media companies are failing to act on 89% of posts containing anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobic content reported to them, according to Centre for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).

“This report exposed that social media companies, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, failed to act on 89% of posts containing anti-Muslim hatred and Islamophobic content reported to them,” it says.

The social media giants had stated that they would be resolute in their commitment to ensure they were doing all they could to fight the hatred and extremism that lead to violence.

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