Two Ethiopians have filed a lawsuit against Meta, accusing Facebook of inciting hatred and violence during Ethiopia’s civil war. Ethiopian academic Abrham Meareg and Amnesty International adviser Fisseha Tekle filed a constitutional motion in neighboring Kenya’s Supreme Court on Wednesday.
In the indictment, available to the German press agency, Facebook is accused of spreading hatred and violence with the aim of generating advertising profits. Meta has failed to allocate enough staff at its site in Kenya to properly moderate content in African languages, he said. As a result, the Facebook posts “fomented conflict and killed people…particularly during Ethiopia’s civil war, which claimed an estimated 500,000 lives,” the plaintiffs said in a statement.
The document holds Facebook responsible, among other things, for the murder of the father of Abrham Meareg, the victim of a viral defamation campaign. Abrham’s father was shot dead outside his home on November 3, 2021 after several calls for his death on Facebook. Her son unsuccessfully petitioned Facebook to remove the entries. Overall, according to the plaintiffs, Facebook’s algorithm has harmed not only Ethiopians, but half a billion people in East and Southern Africa.
The petition calls for a series of court orders to end “Facebook’s systemic discrimination against African users.” Demands include accelerating the removal of comments inciting violence; hiring more content moderators on the Nairobi Facebook Hub responsible for Southern and Eastern Africa; and the creation of a $1.6 billion compensation fund for victims of hate and violence incited by Facebook and $400 million for similar damages resulting from sponsored posts.