Asia Facebook takedown in Myanmar - cracking down on hate speech posts and...

Facebook takedown in Myanmar – cracking down on hate speech posts and pages linked to the military

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On Wednesday, December 19, Facebook took down a combined number of more than 500 pages, groups and accounts in Myanmar that were perpetuating misinformation and hate speech, calling it “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.

After recently receiving criticism because of inability to control and censor posts that promote hate, racism, conflict and even false news, Facebook seems to be cracking down on accounts, pages and groups that promote such sentiments.

The Independent previously reported that on November 27, during an international hearing in London, Facebook announced that they “made a mistake” by not removing a post that incited racial hatred in Sri Lanka. The post, which was written in Sinhalese in March, called for the killing of all Muslims.

An announcement by the social media giant on Wednesday revealed these numbers: For Facebook, 425 pages, 135 accounts and 17 groups were removed, along with 15 Instagram accounts. The pages, accounts and groups in question were moonlighting as different websites focusing on entertainment, lifestyle, news, health and beauty but masking the ugly truth – such as links to the military or to pages previously taken down.

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According to another media source, Facebook has taken down and banned users like “hardline nationalist monks and even the army’s top generals accused by UN investigators of genocide”.

In a newsroom post, Facebook announced that it does not want people or organisations “creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing,” noting that a certain page had a staggering 2.5 million followers.

Some of the taken down and banned pages were entitled “Down for Anything”, “Let’s Laugh Casually”, and “We Love Myanmar”.

This is the third time this year that Facebook, the most influential and visited site in Myanmar, has conducted massive takedowns of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” in many accounts and pages in the Southeast Asian nation. The first and second times were in August and October of this year.

For years, Facebook has been criticised for being unable to control or censor racial hatred posts, specifically those against Myanmar’s Rohingya Muslims.

In 2017, it got so bad, with the military forcing more than 720,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, while the stateless group was berated, shamed, abused and ridiculed on the social networking site.

Facebook has been making attempts to deal with and take down hate speech in Myanmar by promising an increase in Myanmar-language reviewers on staff to 100 by the end of 2018. However, with around 20 million Facebook accounts in multiple languages.

An independent report commissioned by Facebook concluded the following last month: 1) Myanmar’s 2020 elections will be a period to watch out for and will most likely be rife with false news, misinformation and abuse and 2) while the state was responsible for the abuses on rights, Facebook should have done more to stop their social networking platform from being used to promote and encourage violence and hatred.

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