An investigative piece in the Guardian last week has revealed a “vast international operation” in which a mysterious group, traced back to Israel, has co-opted least 21 far-right pages on Facebook to create a “commercial enterprise that harvests anti-Islamic hate for profit and influences politics across the globe.” They have used these pages to co-ordinate thousands of posts to reach more than 1 million followers in four continents; specifically, Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States.
These posts stoke deep hatred of Islam and influence politics by amplifying far-right parties and targeting left-wing politician with fake stories, and vilifying Muslim politicians, US Democratic congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib being singled out for coordinated attacks in particular. Omar has been mentioned more 1,400 posts in the two years since the network began and Tlaib nearly 1,200 times. Congresswoman Omar has since said that she considers Facebook as having helped put a target her back.
In November, Muslim Advocates Executive Director Farhana Khera joined other civil rights leaders in meeting with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at his Palo Alto home, to discuss what she describes in a blog post as American Muslims being “regularly harassed and terrorized by the platform”, with Facebook being used to arrange hate rallies outside Mosques and community gatherings, to perpetuate anti-Muslim rhetoric by politicians and has contributed to genocide and Mob violence in other countries.
Profilic journalist Mehdi Hassan also addresses similar topics in an open letter on the Intercept this week, accusing Zuckerberg of allowing the platform to be an engine of Anti-Muslim hate the world over, and stressing the “real life consequences” of this after Patrick Carlineo, who pled guilty to threatening to assault and murder Omar in November, used the platform to spread anti-Muslim hate for years previous. Hassan also goes as far as to accuse Zuckerberg of being complicit in the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, citing the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, Marzuiki Darusman that companies like Facebook had played a “determining role” in the violence, having “substantially contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict”. He also cites the anti-Muslim wave in India, with Facebook being found as the biggest source of Islamophobic hate speech there, and the Muslims of Sri Lanka being also targeted with inflammatory and Islamophobic videos and posts, as other examples.