U.N. human rights experts investigating a “possible genocide” in Myanmar are blaming Facebook for their role in “spreading hate speech.” The criticism, levied on Monday, is a fairly transparent example of the ongoing push to force social media platforms to monitor and regulate opinions deemed unfavorable or controversial (prior to the 2020 U.S. election, we assume, which Putin and Russian spies have surely hacked already).
Facebook did not immediately respond to the criticism, however the company has previously said it has made efforts to remove hate speech in Myanmar and block people who have consistently shared such content.
More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state into Bangladesh since insurgent attacks sparked a security crackdown last August. Many have provided harrowing testimonies of executions and rapes by Myanmar security forces.
The U.N. human rights chief said last week he strongly suspected acts of genocide had taken place. Myanmar’s national security adviser demanded “clear evidence”. –Reuters
Lawyer and former Attorney General of Indonesia, Marzuki Darusman – who chairs the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, says that social media had played a “determining role” in Myanmar.
“It has … substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict, if you will, within the public. Hate speech is certainly of course a part of that. As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media,” he said.
It should be noted that Darusman came under fire in 2011 over a “discredited” report claiming that more than 40,000 civilians were killed in crossfire between Sri Lankan authorities and the Tamil Tiger rebels – with the Sri Lankan government calling the report “erroneous and replete with conjecture and bias.”
The Darusman Report’s assertion that ‘a range of up to 40,000’ civilian deaths during the last phase of the war ‘cannot be ruled out,’ was reported in the media as if it was a factual statement that 40,000 civilians died. Some reports went further citing this ‘UN Report’ as having found that ‘over 40,000’ had been killed. –Daily Mirror
Facebook was a large part of public, private and civil life in Myanmar – used by the government to disseminate information to the public.
“Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar,” says U.N. Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee, nothing that while Facebook had helped the impoverished country, it had also been used to spread hate speech.
“It was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities,” she said. “I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it originally intended.”
A prominent critic of Islam, Myanmar monk named Wirathu emerged from a one-year preaching ban on Saturday and claimed that his anti-Muslim sentiment had nothing to do with violence in Rakhine state.
Facebook says it suspends and will sometimes remove any user “consistently shares content promoting hate,” when asked last month about Wirathu’s account.
“If a person consistently shares content promoting hate, we may take a range of actions such as temporarily suspending their ability to post and ultimately, removal of their account.”
(*cough* especially before the 2020 U.S. election *cough* as deemed by the hyper-liberal Facebook thought police at the ADL)