UN says Facebook is accelerating ethnic violence in Myanmar

UN says Facebook is accelerating ethnic violence in Myanmar
From TechCrunch - March 13, 2018

The United Nations has warned that Facebooks platform is contributing to the spread of hate speech and ethnic violence in crisis hit Myanmar.

Its yet another black mark against social media at a time when the tech industrys reputation as an accelerator of false information is attracting criticism from thehighest places.

This week the government of Sri Lanka also sought to block access to Facebook and two other of its social services, WhatsApp and Instagram, in an attempt to stem mob violence against its local Muslim minorityciting inflammatory social media posts.

These platforms are banned because they were spreading hate speeches and amplifying them, a government spokesman told the New York Times.

India has also struggled for years with false informationbeing spread by social media platforms like WhatsApp then triggering riots, communal violence and even leading to deaths.

While humans telling lies is nothing new, the speed at which misinformation and disinformation can now spread, thanks to digitally networked communities linked on social media, is.

Moderating that risk is the challenge big tech platforms stand accusing of failing.

UN human rights experts investigating a possible genocide inRakhine state warned yesterday that Facebooks platform is being used byultra-nationalist Buddhists to incite violence and hatred against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities.

A security crackdown in the country last summer led to around 650,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing into neighboringBangladesh. Since then there have been multiple reports of state-led violence against the refugees, and the UN has been leading a fact-finding mission in the country.

Yesterday, chairman of the mission, Marzuki Darusman, told reporters that the social media platform had played a determining role in Myanmars crisis (viaReuters).

Darusman said Facebook has substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict within the public sphere. Hate speech is certainly of course a part of that, he continued, adding: As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media.

In Myanmar, Ashin Wirathu, an ultranationalist Buddhist monk who preaches hate against the Rohingya, has been able tobuild up large followings on social mediausing Facebook to spread divisive and hate-fueling messages.


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