October 11, 2021
John Brady TD calls for Facebook to appear before Foreign Affairs Committee to answer allegations that algorithms were used to incite violence

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Foreign Affairs and Defence John Brady TD has expressed deep concern following allegations that Facebook algorithms have contributed to the incitement of violence against groups in countries such as Myanmar and Ethiopia.

Teachta Brady said:

“I want to express my deep concern at allegations emanating from the testimony of whistle-blower Frances Haugen that the social media giant Facebook was ‘quite literally fanning ethnic violence’, particularly in Myanmar, and Ethiopia.

“This a frightening development at a time when both of these countries are gripped with ethnic tensions and ongoing violence.

“Ms. Haugen’s testimony, augmented by an investigation carried out by Global Witness, a British based NGO, have raised serious concerns that the engagement algorithms employed by Facebook may have promoted posts inciting and glorifying violence against protestors opposed to the coup in Myanmar last February.

“In Ethiopia, where the Tigray population have been subject to genocide, mass rapes, and forced displacement the both Eritrean and Ethiopian government forces, Facebook stands accused of fanning ethnic violence, through the dissemination of fake news, inflammatory posts, and posts that glorify violence against ethnic groups.

“This is an alarming situation and one that I believe that Ireland has a moral obligation to act upon. I have written to the chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs asking that representatives from Facebook be asked to come before the committee, to answer questions in relation to these matters.

“We also need to examine whether Facebook’s engagement algorithm is being exploited by any groups in Ireland for nefarious purposes.”

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