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I Was Attacked, Facebook Profited: Faruqi

Senator Mehreen Faruqi has reacted to the revelation that she was a target of an organised far right network of Facebook pages that are profiting from thousands of hateful posts a week that have targeted high profile Muslim women across the world. Senator Faruqi was the first Muslim woman to sit in an Australian parliament.

Senator Faruqi will refer the investigation and attacks on her to the Select Committee on Foreign Interference through Social Media established by the Senate this week.

She said:

“This is a new level of far right organisation and coordination which platforms Islamophobia, division and hatred towards Muslims and directs it at individuals.

“These far right pages demonstrate just how pervasive racism has been allowed to become, and how disturbingly far it can reach via social media through concerted campaigns.

"This is clearly coordinated and the use of social media to spread racist fake news to attack me is something we should all be concerned about. I will be making a submission to the newly established Senate committee investigating foreign interference via social media and call on investigate and hold Facebook to account.

“The crap these pages are publishing sounds like the hateful far right talking points that have found a home, willing ears and loud voices in parliament's and sections of the media.

“We know the far right relies on social media to legitimise their hate and recruit. Muslim women politicians tick both of their misogyny and racism boxes, so I end up as a target of a lot of their racist content.

“I’ve experienced a huge increase in racist and abusive social media comments, emails, phone calls and even hand written letters since I’ve been in the public eye. There’s no doubt in my mind that many of the people behind these vile messages are emboldened by others on social media and Facebook pages like this.

“Social media has become a really toxic place. This kind of coordinated abuse causes real harm and is designed to silence me and other muslim women. The comments on these posts are a horrific feeding frenzy of racism, fake news and hate towards Muslims.

“By allowing racist and misleading posts, social media giants like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are profiteering from the proliferation of hate speech and abuse. Facebook could shut these pages down, forgo the profit they make from these pages and strengthen their policies on hate speech, but so long as they continue to profit from the reach and engagement, they don’t seem to be interested in decisive action.

“Facebook and other social media companies should be accountable for hate speech and threats that occur on their platforms. Online hate speech has real world consequences for people, their safety, mental health and families. Platforms are not doing enough to combat hate, harassment and intimidation.

“Platforms should take responsibility but Governments must also make and enforce laws that hold these big money-making platforms to account for publishing hate speech and allowing harassment,” she concluded.

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