HAF Leads Interfaith Effort to Shut Down Offensive Facebook Groups
May 6, 2009 - The Hindu American Foundation joined hands with the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and Muslim Public Affairs Committee (MPAC) to send the following letter to Facebook:
Elliot Schrage, Esq., Vice President of Communications and Public Policy
156 University Ave.
Palo Alto, CA 94301-1605
May 6, 2009
Dear Mr. Schrage,
On behalf of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), we are writing to request Facebook to take down the following groups which we believe promote hate speech:
While each of these groups, in one way or another, state that they are not promoting hate against any individual adherents of the respective faiths, the use of the word "Fuck" in their titles immediately sets a standard for what follows: hate speech directed at individuals based on religion. A quick sampling of the Walls of these groups demonstrates that the groups do nothing but actively promote hatred against adherents of the said religions and do not engage in any genuine debates over the merits or demerits of the religions themselves. The examples below are reflective of the hateful, threatening and gratuitously violent speech that these groups foster:
F*** Hinduism - April 9, 2009, Kaushik Chavan has posted: "You fucking Muslims. You are a curse to the earth right now. I wish Israel, Sri Lanka and India kick you guys out. Go live in afghanistan and pakistan."
F*** Judaism - April 13, 2009, Mohammed Al Tareq Azia from Iran has posted: "FUCK JEWZZZ. DOWN THE WELL TO ALL WITH NO FORESKIN!! THEY ARE ALL FILTHY DIRT AND SO ARE WOMEN !!! DEATH TO ALL OWNERS OF BREASTS AND JEW SHIT!!!"
F*** Christianity - April 13, 2009, Lennart Moltrecht has posted: "fuck the pope and his africa policy!!!"
F*** Islam - April 2, 2009: The wall has been disabled.
The Hindu American Foundation, which also actively maintains a group on Facebook with over 1000 members, sent out a survey polling members’ views of the above stated groups. Citing hate speech as "speech intended to foster hatred against individuals or groups based on race, religion, gender, sexual preference, place of national origin, or other improper classification," the survey asked, among other questions, whether the HAF group members were aware of the F*** Hinduism (and similar) group and whether the member felt that the F*** groups incited hate speech. Of the over 230 individuals who responded by April 23:
79% have reported the F*** Hinduism group to Facebook through the site's online mechanism
86% believe the F*** Hinduism group to promote only hate speech
83% believe that Facebook should shut down the F*** Hinduism group
While HAF is aware of Facebook's free speech policy, Facebook's Revised Statement of Rights and Responsibilities (April 16,2009), explicitly states that members will not post content that is hateful, threatening, pornographic, or that contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence; do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory; and will not facilitate or encourage any violations of this Statement." We believe these groups and their administrators are in violation of the abovementioned policies.
As President Obama stated during his election campaign, "Don't tell me words don't matter." Words do matter, and hateful words, such as those posted on these Facebook group, can lead to actions with dire consequences. Especially at a time where the internet is increasingly becoming an instrument for instigating violent crimes, we urge you to shut down these (and related) groups and not let Facebook be used to promote hate.
Thank you for your consideration,
Suhag Shukla, Esq., Managing Director and Legal Counsel
Hindu American Foundation
Richard T. Foltin, Esq., Director of National and Legislative Affairs
Office of Government and International Affairs
American Jewish Committee
Salam Al-Marayati, Executive Director
Muslim Public Affairs Council
A pdf of the above letter can be downloaded here.