Facebook on Monday banned Myanmar’s army chief and removed dozens of other pages, which, the social media platform said, have covertly pushed the messages of the Myanmar military.
“Specifically, we are banning 20 individuals and organizations from Facebook in Myanmar — including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the military’s Myawady television network,” announced Facebook in a statement.
The Facebook move came at a time when international experts, most recently in a report by the UN Human Rights Council-authorized Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, have found evidence that many of these individuals and organizations committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in the country.
“And we want to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions. This has led us to remove six Pages and six accounts from Facebook — and one account from Instagram — which are connected to these individuals and organizations. We have not found a presence on Facebook or Instagram for all 20 individuals and organizations we are banning,” stated Facebook.
The world’s most popular social media platform further stated that 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.”
Facebook announced, “Today, we are taking more action in Myanmar, removing a total of 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook Pages, followed by almost 12 million people. We are preserving data, including content, on the accounts and Pages we have removed.”
Facebook also removed 46 Pages and 12 accounts for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior on its platform. During a recent investigation, Facebook discovered that they used seemingly independent news and opinion Pages to covertly push the messages of the Myanmar military. “This type of behavior is banned on Facebook because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make.”
Facebook statement also said, “We continue to work to prevent the misuse of Facebook in Myanmar — including through the independent human rights impact assessment we commissioned earlier in the year. This is a huge responsibility given so many people there rely on Facebook for information — more so than in almost any other country given the nascent state of the news media and the recent rapid adoption of mobile phones. It’s why we’re so determined to do better in the future.”