In global first, Facebook bans Myanmar Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing

Kevin McSpadden
In global first, Facebook bans Myanmar Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing

Facebook has been specifically criticised by the UN for its role in the Rohingya humanitarian crisis

Facebook has banned the accounts of high-ranking officials in Myanmar — including Senior General Min Aung Hliang — in response to the recent Rohingya crisis, and Facebook’s own role in the killings.

In total, the company has banned 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook Pages which reached about 12 million people. The justification was to prevent these individuals from flaming ethnic and religious tensions to enable human rights abuses in Myanmar.

This comes just hours after an UN investigation called on Myanmar generals to be tried for genocide and singled-out Facebook as the platform most widely used to spread hatred and justify violence.

Like much of Southeast Asia, Facebook is incredibly popular in Myanmar, which means it is the most effective social media tool to spread messaging. Furthermore, Facebook does not have an employee in the country, despite the reality that the platform has been used to spread hate for awhile.

In response, Facebook began its blog post with the following statement:

“The ethnic violence in Myanmar has been truly horrific. Earlier this month, we shared an update on the steps we’re taking to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation on Facebook. While we were too slow to act, we’re now making progress – with better technology to identify hate speech, improved reporting tools, and more people to review content.”

One of the logical arguments Facebook made for banning about two-thirds of the accounts was that they leveraged “independent” media to push messaging from the military. Facebook says they want people to trust the connections they make.

Zooming out, this reasoning could be applied to a lot of countries where fake news is spread via sources that appear to be independent but exist only to push a narrative.

The banning of Min Aung Hlaing and other officials represents the first time state actors have been banned from Facebook.

As head of the military, Min Aung Hliang is one of the most powerful people in Myanmar. Civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi is the only person in Myanmar with arguably equal power.

The UN report accused Aung San Suu Kyi of failing in her moral authority and “contributing to the atrocity”.

If the UN moves forward with the word ‘genocide’ it could trigger a legal proceeding whereby the Myanmar military leaders might be charged with war crimes. The UN says it has enough evidence to prove “genocidal intent”.

Copyright: magurok / 123RF Stock Photo

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