Guwahati, November 2: The minority communities in Assam have been targeted in hate speeches on social networking site Facebook, the videos of which have been viewed nearly 54 lakh times, a report revealed. In a shocking revelation, the report states that Bengalis and Muslims in particular, are facing an extraordinary chorus of abuse and hate in Assam on Facebook. According to the findings of the United States-based not-for-profit organisation Avaaz, the group which is very vulnerable to hate speech are the over 1.9 million people who were excluded from Assam's National Register of Citizens (NRC) published August 31, 2019.
The research report, published in October, comes nearly two months after the final list of the National Register of Citizens was published, which excluding 19 lakh people. The report adds that the Bengali Muslims in particular are targets of hatred on Facebook, with content calling them “criminals”, “rapists”, “terrorists”, “pigs”, and “dogs” being shared over 1,00,000 times.
The report reveals the dangerous hate speech and lies being allowed to spread in Assam on Facebook. The organisation stated that it sampled 800 posts on Facebook and analysed comments relating to Assam and the NRC, using keywords from the immigration discourse in 13 Assamese, and then assessed them using the three tiers of prohibited hate speech set forth in Facebook’s Community Standards and found that at least 26.5% of the posts and comments constituted hate speech. The posts have been shared on Facebook over 99,650 times and translated into nearly 5.4 million estimated views. Avaaz said that after sharing this evidence with Facebook, the firm removed 96 of the 213 comments.
Avaaz said it carried out the investigation during the National Register of Citizens process in Assam. The NGO said the NRC process has prompted repeated warnings from the UN that there was rising hate speech against vulnerable minorities in Assam. The report further states that Facebook continues to rely on Artificial Intelligence-based hate speech detection mechanisms, which have failed to identify hate speech stoking up ethnic tensions in Assam. NRC Final List 2019 Published at nrcassam.nic.in And thefinalnrc.com, Over 19 Lakh Excluded; Know How And Where to Check Names in National Register of Citizens For Assam.
Alaphia Zoyab, senior campaigner at Avaaz, was quoted in the report saying that Facebook is being used as a megaphone for hate, pointed directly at vulnerable minorities in Assam, many of whom could be made stateless within months. Zoyab added that despite the clear danger faced by these people, Facebook is refusing to dedicate the resources required to keep them safe.
Avaaz’s research primarily took place in the period immediately ahead of the final publication of the NRC, the report added. The report said they found deeply troubling evidence of hate speech being shared on Facebook in Assam. The content found stoked ethnic tensions, especially between Bengali, Muslims and Hindus, incited violence and targeted minorities, such as the Rohingya refugees in India.