‘Facebook must act against those inciting violence in Myanmar’

In 2018, Facebook admitted it failed to prevent its platform from being used to incite violence in Myanmar. The tech giant admitted: “we agree that we can and should do more.

Today, the nightmare reappears as Myanmar has been placed under a state of emergency following a military takeover on Monday. The nation’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and senior members of the National League for Democracy (NLD) party have since been detained.

Human rights activists fear the social media tool will once again be used to incite hate and violence against Suu Kyi and NLD as Internet connectivity and phone lines have been restored in most areas.

Khin Ohmar, chairperson of the Advisory Board of Progressive Voice, called on Facebook to “take action”.

“We see much instigation. The private sectors like Facebook must take the responsibility (in removing hate content),” said Khin, during a joint press conference on Tuesday on the implications of the Myanmar military coup on human rights and democracy.

“Facebook should learn a big lesson like how their platform was used in the genocide. We need to take down the accounts of those who are instigating and forcing for violence.”

Facebook Inc said yesterday it had removed a page linked to Myanmar’s military-owned television network, Myawaddy Television.

The tech company had in 2018 banned the network from its platform but it remains unclear why the page was operational despite the earlier ban.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Facebook public policy director Rafael Frankel as saying Facebook is closely monitoring political events in Myanmar as they unfold and is taking steps to stop misinformation and content that could incite further tensions.

Facebook also came under fire after a mob stormed the US Capitol last month. Former US President Donald Trump had been posting baseless allegations about election fraud after losing the 2020 election.

Khin was joined by Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights chair Charles Santiago and Wai Wai Nu, founder and director of the Women’s Peace Network, during the press conference.

The panelist also called on Asean, China and Russia to add pressure to the military so that those voted in will be able to serve the people.

“We need a more comprehensive and bold response from the international community,” added Khin.

“We don’t want Asean saying nice things but doing nothing concrete.”

They also called for an arms embargo.

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