Published: Tue, March 13, 2018
Hi-Tech | By Grace Becker

United Nations says Facebook has 'turned into a beast' in violence-plagued Myanmar

United Nations says Facebook has 'turned into a beast' in violence-plagued Myanmar

Speaking at the UN's human rights council in Geneva, Yanghee Lee, the global organisation's chief monitor on Burma, said that the near-monopoly enjoyed by the social media site within the country allows it to be used to persecute the Rohingya.

Around 700,000 Rohingya people were forced to leave their homes in the Rakhine state to escape persecution at the hands of Myanmar authorities, an act condemned by the worldwide community as ethnic cleansing.

Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, told reporters that Facebook in particular had played a "determining role" in Myanmar.

The three-member probe, which was established last March to investigate allegations of human rights abuses against ethnic minorities in Myanmar's Rakhine, Shan, and Kachin States, has conducted hundreds of interviews with refugees in Bangladesh, Thailand, and Malaysia that yielded "hundreds of credible accounts of the most harrowing nature", Darusman told the Human Rights Council on Monday.

While the Malaysian government is carrying out new laws to stamp out fake news in the country, the United Nations (UN) recently blamed social media, as the beast that is instigating violence, especially against Myanmar's ethnic minority Muslim community, the Rohingyas.

Similarly, UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee said Facebook's role in disseminating information to the public plays a huge part of the public's life, which has affected their views on the genocide that is taking place.

"Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar", she said.

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More than 650,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar's Rakhine State into Bangladesh since a military crackdown last August.

"I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it originally intended", she said.

Calls for action have grown louder since the Rohingya crisis erupted past year, sending some 700,000 of the minority fleeing across the border since August.

In response to the United Nations criticism, a Facebookspokesperson on Tuesday defended the site's anti-hate speech strategy and said it had invested significantly in technology and local language expertise in Myanmar.

Last month, Facebook removed the page of a Myanmar monk once dubbed the "Buddhist Bin Laden" for his incendiary posts about Muslims, the company confirmed, as it faces pressure to clamp down on hate speech.

"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.

"Of course, there is always more we can do and we will continue to work with local experts to help keep our community safe", Facebook spokesperson has said.

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