Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

Facebook is being used to incite hatred in Myanmar, says the UN

Myanmar Army Grabbing Land Left by Fleeing Rohingya Amnesty International Former Rohingya village
Terence Owen | 13 March, 2018, 21:41

"It has. substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict, if you will, within the public".

The government of Sri Lanka also sought to block access to Facebook and two other of its social services, WhatsApp and Instagram, in an attempt to stem mob violence against its local Muslim minority - citing inflammatory social media posts, according to TechCrunch.

Almost 700 000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar since August, crossing into Bangladesh with stories of murder, rape and arson at the hands of soldiers and Buddhist mobs in Rakhine state.

"The external review should assess whether the United Nations and global community could have prevented or managed the situation differently that occurred regarding the Rohingya and in Rakhine state, and make recommendations for accountability if appropriate", she said.

Facebook is a major news source for people in Myanmar, where it has been used as a platform to stir up public outrage against the Rohingya.

Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee (R) gives her report next to the Chairperson of the Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar Marzuki Darusman, during the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, March 12, 2018.

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A human rights investigator has found that social media played a "determining role" in spreading hate speech against the persecuted minorities in Myanmar.

In Myanmar, which is still effectively controlled by the military, Facebook is so prevalent that it essentially functions as the entire internet, and is the main source of information for citizens (a local digital marketing agency puts the share of the population on Facebook at about 20%).

"And I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, (instead of) what it was originally meant to be used (for) - maybe in other parts of the world too". Last year, medical humanitarian group Médecins Sans Frontières said that at least 6,700 Rohingya were slain in Rakhine by "the most conservative estimations". The fact-finding mission is investigating whether the violence in Myanmar falls under genocide.

"We take this incredibly seriously and have worked with experts in Myanmar for several years to develop safety resources and counter-speech campaigns", the spokesperson said.

"Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar", she told reporters, adding that Facebook had helped the impoverished country but had also been used to spread hate speech.

Facebook had no immediate comment on the criticism on Monday, although in the past the company has said that it was working to remove hate speech in Myanmar and kick off people who shared such content consistently.

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