Facebook Defends Track Record On Fighting Myanmar Hate Speech

Nellie Chapman
March 13, 2018

While the Malaysian government is carrying out new laws to stamp out fake news in the country, the United Nations (UN) recently blamed social media, as the beast that is instigating violence, especially against Myanmar's ethnic minority Muslim community, the Rohingyas.

The social network offered no immediate comment on the criticism yesterday, although in the past the company has said that it was working to remove hate speech in Myanmar and bar people who indulge in hate speech.

Over 671,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority have fled Myanmar's western Rakhine state for neighboring Bangladesh since August 25, many bearing tales of atrocities committed by Myanmar's military, including executions, gang rapes, and the razing of homes and villages.

Delivering her report to thecCouncil in Geneva, Lee said that to date accountability for the crimes committed in Rakhine state following 25 August 2017, and 9 October 2016, was elusive, adding that this must now be the focus of the global community's efforts to bring long-lasting peace, stability and democratisation to Myanmar.

Investigators from the United Nations are now looking into a potential - the investigators recently said they are "becoming more convinced" that a genocide occurred - genocide in Myanmar that happened between October 2016 and August 2017.

The Fact-Finding Mission said in an interim report presented in Geneva that "patterns of human rights abuse across the country are linked", with events in Rakhine, Kachin and Shan states all "products of a longstanding, systemic pattern of human rights violation and abuse in Myanmar".

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He adds that it has "substantially contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict".

UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee said that "everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar", adding it has been used to spread hate speech. "As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media", Darusman told reporters.

The government ordered internet and mobile service providers to temporarily block Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, as well as messaging service Viber, after officials said these platforms were fueling online hate speech.

The UN's Special Rapporteur on Myanmar also said that the Rohingya crisis in the Rakhine State "bears the hallmarks of genocide".

"I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast", Lee told reporters.

The anti-Rohingya propaganda on Facebook stemmed from several sources, most notably ultra-nationalist Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, but also government and military accounts, according to the Washington Post.

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