U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar Sent Letter Condemning Facebook’s Role in Ongoing Violence in Ethiopia

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FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2019 file photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Omar has condemned State Sen. Oley Larsen, a Republican state senator from North Dakota who posted a long-debunked photo on his Facebook page that purports to show the Minnesota Democrat holding a weapon at an al-Qaida training camp. Larsen has since removed the photo. Omar called the post
FILE - In this Sept. 24, 2019 file photo, Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Omar has condemned State Sen. Oley Larsen, a Republican state senator from North Dakota who posted a long-debunked photo on his Facebook page that purports to show the Minnesota Democrat holding a weapon at an al-Qaida training camp. Larsen has since removed the photo. Omar called the post "pure propaganda designed to stir up hate and violence." (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta File)

WASHINGTON—Ahead of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) sent a letter to Zuckerberg opposing Facebook’s role in the violence around the world, most recently in Ethiopia. The letter also raises serious concerns related to the online hate speech that contributed to the violence against Sri Lankan Muslims and the genocide against Rohingya people in Burma.

“I am writing to express my deep alarm at the role Facebook is playing in the catastrophic violence that has encompassed Ethiopia,” Rep. Omar wrote. “Sometimes genocidal hate speech that is being propagated in many languages by many actors, both inside Ethiopia and abroad, has found a viral audience on your platform, and has almost certainly contributed directly to the massacres of civilians based on their ethnicities.”

“You and Facebook should have learned from past experience. The role Facebook played in the 2018 violence against Sri Lankan Muslims prompted a public apology earlier this year. In that crisis, people were killed and beaten, and mosques and Muslim-owned homes and businesses burnt because of hate speech that disseminated on your platform.”

The letter addresses the need for Facebook to prevent and monitor the fomentation of hate speech and violence.

A PDF of the letter can be found here, and the full text of the letter is below.

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