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    UN says Facebook is accelerating ethnic violence in Myanmar

    The United Nations has warned that Fb’s platform is contributing to the unfold of hate speech and ethnic violence in disaster hit Myanmar.

    It’s yet one more black mark towards social media at a time when the tech business’s popularity as an accelerator of false information is attracting criticism from the highest places.

    This week the federal government of Sri Lanka additionally sought to dam entry to Fb and two different of its social companies, WhatsApp and Instagram, in an try to stem mob violence towards its native Muslim minority — citing inflammatory social media posts.

    “These platforms are banned as a result of they had been spreading hate speeches and amplifying them,” a authorities spokesman advised the New York Times.

    India has additionally struggled for years with false information being unfold by social media platforms like WhatsApp then triggering riots, communal violence and even resulting in deaths.

    Whereas people telling lies is nothing new, the pace at which misinformation and disinformation can now unfold, because of digitally networked communities linked on social media, is.

    Moderating that danger is the problem huge tech platforms stand accusing of failing.

    UN human rights specialists investigating a doable genocide in Rakhine state warned yesterday that Fb’s platform is being utilized by ultra-nationalist Buddhists to incite violence and hatred towards the Rohingya and different ethnic minorities.

    A safety crackdown within the nation final summer time led to round 650,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh. Since then there have been a number of reviews of state-led violence towards the refugees, and the UN has been main a fact-finding mission within the nation.

    Yesterday, chairman of the mission, Marzuki Darusman, advised reporters that the social media platform had performed a “figuring out position” in Myanmar’s disaster (through Reuters).

    Darusman mentioned Fb has “substantively contributed to the extent of acrimony and dissension and battle” throughout the public sphere. “Hate speech is actually after all part of that,” he continued, including: “So far as the Myanmar scenario is anxious, social media is Fb, and Fb is social media.”

    In Myanmar, Ashin Wirathu, an ultranationalist Buddhist monk who preaches hate towards the Rohingya, has been in a position to build up large followings on social media — utilizing Fb to unfold divisive and hate-fueling messages.

    Talking to reporters yesterday, UN investigator Yanghee Lee, described Fb as an enormous a part of public, civil and personal life in Myanmar, noting it’s utilized by the federal government to disseminate data to the general public.

    Nevertheless she additionally flagged how the platform has been appropriated by ultra-nationalist parts to unfold hate towards minorities.

    Within the case of Wirathu, Fb has typically eliminated or restricted his pages — however doesn’t seem to have completed sufficient. Although the corporate has now confirmed to us that it permanently disabled his profile on the finish of January.

    “All the pieces is completed by Fb in Myanmar,” mentioned Lee. “It was used to convey public messages however we all know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their very own Facebooks and are actually inciting a number of violence and a number of hatred towards the Rohingya or different ethnic minorities.”

    “I’m afraid that Fb has now changed into a beast, and never what it initially supposed,” she added.

    We reached out to the corporate with questions however on the time of writing Fb had not responded. Replace: A Fb spokesperson has now supplied the next assertion:

    There isn’t any place for hate speech or content material that promotes violence on Fb, and we work exhausting to maintain it off our platform. Now we have invested considerably in know-how and native language experience to assist us swiftly take away hate content material and individuals who repeatedly violate our hate speech insurance policies. We take this extremely severely and have labored with specialists in Myanmar for a number of years to develop security assets and counter-speech campaigns. This work features a devoted Safety Page for Myanmar, a regionally illustrated model of our Group Requirements, and common coaching periods for civil society and local people teams throughout the nation. In fact, there may be at all times extra we are able to do and we’ll proceed to work with native specialists to assist hold our group protected.

    For years Myanmar’s navy dictatorship totally managed and censored the press however in 2011 it started what was billed as a gradual democratic transition — which included opening as much as new media companies resembling Fb. And the platform basically went from floor zero to turning into a very powerful data supply in Myanmar in a handful of years.

    Native Fb customers are actually thought to quantity over 30 million.

    However as uptake ballooned, human rights teams sounded alarms over how Fb is getting used to unfold hate speech and stoke ethnic violence.

    Final yr New York Occasions reporter, Paul Moyer, additionally warned that authorities Fb channel had been getting used to unfold anti-Rohingya propaganda — implying the platform has additionally been appropriated as a citizen management software by the state seeding its personal propaganda.

    And whereas states maliciously misappropriating social media to foster hate towards their very own residents is probably not an issue in each nation the place the tech business operates, social media platforms amplifying hate speech is actually a common concern — from Asia, to Europe, to America.

    Featured Picture: Nur Photo/Getty Photographs

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