Facebook takes a stand against the Myanmar coup


After failing to stop hate speech and misinformation Fuel genocide In Myanmar, Facebook now says it plans to take proactive steps to moderate content after the country’s military coup.

In an internal letter published late Monday and seen by BuzzFeed News, Raphael Frankel, director of public policy in the Asia Pacific region, told staff that the social network was monitoring the “volatile situation” in Myanmar with “great concern” and outlining a series of measures to eliminate On people who have used it to spread misinformation or threaten violence.

As part of these measures, Facebook has designated Myanmar as a “high-risk temporary site” for two weeks, allowing the company to remove content and events in the country that include “any calls to bring weapons.” The social network previously applied this designation to Washington, D.C., after the mutiny at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

The social network, which promoted its efforts to protect the integrity of the national elections in Myanmar in November, said it would protect posts critical of the military and its coup, and track reports of pages and accounts that have been hacked or seized by the military. .

“Although not without challenges, as highlighted by international human rights groups, the Myanmar elections in November were an important moment in the country’s transition towards democracy,” Frankl wrote. “This turn of events hears us of the days we had hoped were in the past of Myanmar and reminds us of basic rights that should never be taken for granted.”

Facebook’s moves come after General Min Aung Hlaing, commander of the Myanmar army, took control of the country’s government and detained party leader-elect Aung San Suu Kyi and other NLD members on Monday. After the election started The National League for Democracy won a majority of seats In the Myanmar Parliament, the military-backed opposition groups called the findings fraudulent and demanded a review.

On Tuesday, the US State Department Officially designated Myanmar’s takeover of the military as a coup, leading to financial sanctions.

“After reviewing all the facts, we assessed that the actions of the Burmese army on February 1, after the duly elected prime minister was ousted, constituted a military coup,” a State Department official said in a press release. The name the United States government uses to refer to the country.

In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Facebook confirmed the actions it had identified in Frankel’s post and said it would delete or support content praising the coup.

“We are putting the safety of people in Myanmar first and removing content that violates our rules on violence, hate speech and harmful disinformation,” Frankl said. This includes removing misinformation that delegitimizes the November election results. “

Facebook is taking action in a country where it previously faced international condemnation over its handling of the displacement and genocide of Rohingya Muslims that began in 2016. In 2018, UN investigators found that senior military officials in Myanmar had used Facebook, which it did not. It has state content moderators, To create fear and spread hate speech.

UN investigators have concluded that “the extent to which Facebook posts and messages have led to discrimination in the real world must be independently and thoroughly investigated.” Their report.

In a post on Monday, Frankel said Facebook was using “a number of intrusions into products that have been used in the past in Myanmar and during the US elections, to ensure the platform is not used to spread disinformation, incite violence, or coordinate harm.”

Frankel wrote that the company is working to secure the accounts of activists and journalists “at risk or who have been arrested” and remove content that threatens or advocates violence against them. The company will also work to protect “critical information about what is happening on the ground,” due to restrictions on news outlets in the country.

Facebook’s work is an ongoing effort. On Tuesday, a page of Myanmar’s military television network was deleted late Monday, after inquiries from The Wall Street Journal. The company banned one page on the Myawaddy TV network in 2018 During a drive In hundreds of accounts linked to the Myanmar military, a new page has reappeared and garnered 33,000 likes.

Facebook has been repeatedly criticized for facilitating the growth of violent and extremist groups and for being ineffective in stopping disinformation. Recently, a tech watchdog group accused the company of stirring up unrest that led to the deadly coup attempt in the United States.

“[Facebook] He spent the past year failing to eliminate the extremist activity and election-related conspiracy theories raised by President Trump that radicalized a wide swath of the population and led many onto a dangerous path, ”the Technical Transparency Project (TTP) He said in a report.

The report revealed specific threats made by pro-Trump and militant groups on Facebook before and after Joe Biden’s election victory in November.

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