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UN: Facebook allowed Rohingya Muslim hate-speech to spread

UN investigators blamed Facebook for allowing the platform to be used as a vehicle to spread hate speech, which played a “determining role” in the persecution and potential genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. Roughly 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled to Bangladesh since Myanmar’s military launched a crackdown on Rohingya people in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in August 2017.

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Chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, Marzuki Darusman, told a press conference on Monday social media had played a “determining role” in events in Myanmar and that “as far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media.” (The Guardian)

UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee credited Facebook with helping the predominately Buddhist country of Myanmar to communicate. But she added: “Ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities … I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it originally intended.”

Facebook hasn’t responded to comments from Monday’s press conference. In the past, the company has said it’s working to remove hate speech on Facebook in Myanmar and to remove users who share this kind of content consistently.

In response to a question last month about the most prominent of Myanmar’s hardline nationalist monks, Wirathu, whose one-year preaching ban has recently expired, Facebook said it suspends and removes anyone who “consistently shares content promoting hate.” The State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee banned the infamously anti-Muslim Wirathu in 2017 for “making statements that could cause hatred and riots among different religions and toward some political parties.” (Myanmar Times)

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Harry is one of the journalists at WikiTribune. He is a masters graduand from Cardiff University, with a diploma in Magazine Journalism. He has an interest in politics and science, having previously studied Geography at Aberystwyth University. Follow Harry on Twitter @harryridgewell

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