After failing to prevent hate speech and false information promote a genocide In Myanmar, Facebook has now said it plans to proactively take steps to censor its content after the military coup takes place in the country.
In an internal statement posted late Monday and viewed by BuzzFeed News, Rafael Frankel, director of public policy in the Asia-Pacific region, told employees that the social network was watching ” upheaval “in Myanmar” with serious concern “and outlines a range of measures to repress people who have used it to spread false information or threaten violence.
As part of those measures, Facebook designated Myanmar as a two-week “High Risk Temporary Site”, allowing the company to remove content and events in the country including “any appeal. Call to bring weapons “. Social media previously adopted that name for Washington, DC, following the uprising at the Capitol of the United States on January 6.
The social network, which advertised efforts to protect the integrity of Myanmar’s national elections in November, also said it would defend posts criticizing the military and its coup, and at the same time will track reports of sites and accounts hijacked or hijacked by the military. .
Frankel writes: “Myanmar’s November elections are a pivotal moment in the country’s transition to democracy, although it is not without challenges, as international human rights groups have emphasized. strong”. “This event reminds us of the days we hoped were Myanmar’s past and reminds us of fundamental rights that should never be taken for granted.”
Facebook’s moves come after General Min Aung Hlaing, the head of the Myanmar army, took control of the country’s government and arrested the elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other members of the party. Her National Democratic Federation (NLD) on Monday. After the election in it The NLD won the majority of seats in Myanmar’s parliament, military-backed opposition groups called the result a lie and demanded modification.
On Tuesday, US State Department formally designated The military’s takeover of Myanmar as a coup, provoked financial sanctions.
“After reviewing all the facts, we assessed that the actions of the Burmese army on February 1, after the removal of the properly elected head of government, constituted a military coup, ”a State Department official said in a press conference, using the name the US government uses to refer to the country.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Facebook confirmed the actions it took in Frankel’s post and said it would remove content that praised or supported the coup.
“We put the safety of the people in Myanmar first and are removing content that violates our rules about violence, hate speech and harmful misinformation,” said Frankel. “This includes the elimination of false information authorizing November election results.”
Facebook is taking action in a country where it has previously faced international condemnation for handling the displacement and genocide of Rohingya Muslims starting in 2016. In 2018, the U.N. investigation found that senior military officials in Myanmar used Facebook, which did not have people censoring the content in the country, scare and spread hate speech.
“The extent to which Facebook posts and messages have led to real-world discrimination must be investigated independently and thoroughly,” the UN investigators concluded in their reports.
In a Monday post, Frankel said Facebook was using “some sort of product interventions that have been used in the past in Myanmar and in the US elections, to ensure the platform is not compromised.” Used to spread false information, incite violence or harm ”.
The company is working to secure the accounts of activists and journalists “who are at risk or who have been arrested” and remove content that threatens or calls for violence against them, Frankel writes. . The company will also protect “critical information about what’s happening on the ground”, based on restrictions on domestic news outlets.
Facebook’s work is a relentless endeavor. On Tuesday, it removed a page for Myanmar’s military television network late on Monday, following requests from The Wall Street Journal. While the company banned a site for TV network Myawaddy in 2018 during a crackdown On hundreds of accounts related to the Myanmar military, a new page has reappeared and has garnered 33,000 likes.
Facebook has frequently been criticized for facilitating the growth of violent and extremist groups as well as its ineffectiveness in generating misinformation. Most recently, a group of tech watchdogs accused the company of inciting unrest that led to the deadly coup in the United States.
“[Facebook] has spent the past year failing to eliminate extremist activity and election-related conspiracy theories introduced by President Trump that radicalized a broad segment of the population and drove more into children. Dangerous road ”, Technology Transparency Project (TTP) said in a report.
The report uncovered specific threats made in pro-Trump and militant groups on Facebook both before and after Joe Biden’s election victory in November.