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Meta’s Independent India Human Rights Impact Assessment Summarised in New Report

The independent study by HRIA explores the “most salient risks to human rights that could be associated with the company’s products”

‘The HRIA [Human Rights Impact Assessment] noted the potential for Meta’s platforms [in India] to be connected to salient human rights risks caused by third parties, including: restrictions of freedom of expression and information; third party advocacy of hatred that incites hostility, discrimination, or violence; rights to non-discrimination; as well as violations of rights to privacy and security of person,’ noted a summary of an independent Human Rights Impact Assessment of Facebook’s operations in India, included in Meta’s recently released Human Rights Report.  The summary added that in India, ‘Meta faced criticism and potential reputational risks related to risks of hateful or discriminatory speech by end users.’ It referred to the challenges of enforcing regional language content moderation policies, as well as allegations of biased content moderation, which the ‘assessors did not assess or reach conclusions about.’  Meta reportedly commissioned the independent HRIA in 2019, after multiple unspecified civil society reports critiqued Facebook’s content moderation policies. The assessment was carried out by Foley-Hoag LLP—a Boston-based law firm—from March 2020, but ran into delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interviews were held with 40 civil society members, whose identities were not shared with Facebook or Meta. Facebook’s content policies were reviewed, while surveys of over 2,000 ‘individual rights holders’ were conducted. The four-page summary reveals no explicit instances of such violations—using the generalised language quoted above instead. To address these unspecified concerns, Meta reportedly expanded its human rights team and improved regional content moderation across 21 Indian languages. Among other policy changes…

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