Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Activists create ‘crime scene’ before Meta’s London HQ protesting its complicity in hate crimes

Meta’s London headquarters was stormed by activists of Indian origin, in protest against its complicity in spreading and profiting from hate-inciting Facebook posts and misinformation ahead of the 2024 Indian general election that starts on Friday.

Meta employees who arrived for work on Wednesday morning were met by protesters. They, wearing forensics suits, sealed off the entrance to the building with blue and white incident tapes in a crime scene model, symbolically depicting an investigation against Meta’s ‘crimes’.

They showcased a huge banner, with the comment “Mark Zuckerberg is profiting from hate” written on it. A billboard stating “Facebook HQ – Crimes against humanity” was also spotted at the protest site.

Protestors accused Meta that it turned a blind eye towards the warnings, censure and committee hearings, failing to take effective action to stop the flow of hate-inciting content to 400 million Indian users, the largest Facebook audience in the world.

“Instead, Meta continues to profit from shadow advertisers by promoting posts vilifying and calling for the killing of ethnic minorities, which have resulted in violent crime and mob attacks, particularly against Muslims,” read the press release issued by them.

Activists urged Meta to implement three key demands they prepared among 10 other measures to tackle the spread of misinformation and hate. It included stopping all paid political advertising during India’s election silence period, turning off behavioural profiling in the recommendations system by default, and providing meaningful transparency on the source of funding for all political advertisements.

“It took two years for Facebook to remove a post from a prominent Hindu priest saying he wanted to ‘eliminate Muslims and Islam from the face of the Earth.’ It had 32 million views. How many minds are being warped by posts like that? As members of the Indian diaspora, we are outraged at Meta’s lack of action about its devastating impact in India.” Lokita, one of the protesters and co-chair of InSAF India told Maktoob.

“If Meta doesn’t want more blood on its hands, it has to take urgent action.” Another protestor, Dr Ritumbra Manuvie, Executive Director of Foundation The London Story, said.

Activists from diverse Indian diaspora organisations including India Labour Society, UK-Indian Muslim Council, Hindus for Human Rights, The Citizens, People Versus Big Tech, India Insaf, India Labour Solidarity, and Foundation The London Story have participated in the protest that sealed Meta’s London HQ for hours.

P P Jaseem
P P Jaseem
PP Jaseem is a freelance journalist covering law, human rights, and Indian minorities.

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