Irish court to hear Rohingya call on Meta to pay for 2017 violence

25 Aug 2023

Image: © rexandpan/

KOD Lyons and Abbey Law are representing Rohingya refugees in Ireland who want Meta to pay for alleged disinformation spread through Facebook in 2017.

It has been exactly six years since more than 700,000 people were driven out of the Rakhine state by Myanmar’s military, in what came to be known as the Rohingya genocide.

Today (25 August), Meta faces increasing pressure from the community and international organisations to pay for its alleged role in exacerbating the conflict through disinformation spread on Facebook.

“Facebook’s algorithms and Meta’s ruthless pursuit of profit created an echo chamber that helped foment hatred of the Rohingya people and contributed to the conditions which forced the ethnic group to flee Myanmar en masse,” reads a statement by Amnesty International.

Head of Big Tech Accountability at Amnesty, Pat de Brún, described this as “one of the most egregious examples of a social media company’s involvement in a human rights crisis”.

Interestingly, the sixth anniversary of the Rohingya genocide comes on the same day as the Digital Services Act comes into effect, obliging Big Tech companies such as Meta, Google and TikTok to double-down on content moderation under stricter EU rules.

And within this movement to get Meta to pay for its alleged inaction, Ireland is becoming a key battleground because of its unique position.

“The DSA is a landmark piece of legislation aimed at strengthening rights in the digital age, which could create ripple effects far beyond the EU,” Amnesty added.

“Members states – particularly Ireland given its strategic location for big tech companies – have a legal responsibility to effectively protect our human rights from the risks posed to our rights by Big Tech.”

Now, Meta is facing 17 High Court actions from Rohingya refugees, according to a Business Post report, who allege that the social media platform should pay for its role in aggravating violence perpetrated against their community by the Myanmar army in 2017.

The outlet reports that the cases were filed on Wednesday by Dublin-based legal firms focused on immigration and human rights law, KOD Lyons and Abbey Law.

The cases will argue that Ireland is the appropriate country to bring the claims because Meta is headquartered here and the content moderation was performed in Dublin.

“It is high time Meta faced its responsibilities by paying reparations to the Rohingya and by fixing its business model to prevent this from happening again,” added de Brún.

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic