Facebook deleted, on February 21, the main page of the Burmese army, believing that it violated the rules of the social network on incitement to violence. The “Tatmadaw True News” page – “Tatmadaw” being one of the names of the Burmese army – is no longer accessible on Facebook.
Since the coup d’état of 1is February and the overthrow of Aung San Suu Kyi’s elected government, clashes between the army and protesters – which left two more dead on Saturday in Mandalay, Burma’s second city – continue on Facebook. The social network plays a particularly important role in the country, where it is used by almost all the inhabitants. For a large part of the Burmese population, “Internet is Facebook”, have noted for years specialists of the country.
For several years, the social network was also the main platform used by the army to disseminate calls for violence or genocide against the Rohingya Muslim minority. Several press inquiries have shown that the Burmese soldiers had safely used the social network to massively disseminate hate calls, sometimes using fake accounts. In 2018, Marzuki Darusman, the chairman of the international mission mandated by the UN to investigate human rights violations in Burma, estimated that Facebook had “Substantially contributed to the level of animosity, dissension and conflict”, due to the dissemination of “Hate speech”.
Lack of moderation
Questioned by an investigation by the Reuters news agency which revealed that at the time Facebook had only four moderators reading Burmese, the social network had promised to considerably increase its staff and explained some of its errors by the that the characters of the Burmese alphabet were misinterpreted by its automatic hate message detection software. The social network had also deleted more than 400 pages related to the Burmese army.
On February 3, it was the Burmese army, worried about the way in which protesters against the coup d’état were using Facebook to organize, which temporarily blocked the social network. The junta had restricted internet access across the country and cut off access to Facebook and WhatsApp altogether for several days.
Facebook announced on February 11 a series of new measures explicitly targeting the junta and in particular new limits on the dissemination of messages published by army accounts.
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