UN experts slam Facebook for allowing hate material to spread against Rohingya in Myanmar
United Nations human rights experts have slammed the online social media platform Facebook for allowing the incitement of violence against Rohingya Muslims in the Buddhists-majority country of Myanmar.
Buddhist mobs backed by Myanmar’s armed forces have launched a campaign of terror against Muslim families living in Rakhine State, killing and raping members of the minority group and torching their houses, forcing hundreds of thousands of them to flee to neighboring Bangladesh.
The UN experts, who are tasked with investigating rights violations — including “genocide” — in Myanmar, said on Monday that Facebook played a role in the brutal atrocities against the Rohingya community by allowing hate speech to spread.
Facebook “substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissention and conflict, if you will, within the public. Hate speech is certainly of course a part of that. As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media,” said Marzuki Darusman, the chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar.
UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee followed suit, saying Facebook was a huge part of the public, civil, and private life in Myanmar, and the government used it to disseminate information to the public.
“Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar,” she said, adding that the social media platform “was used to convey public messages but we know that the 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,” she warned.
Facebook has said in the past that it was working to remove hate speech and accounts that shared such content consistently.
Myanmar’s most well-known hard-line nationalist monk, Wirathu, claimed his anti-Muslim speeches spread on Facebook had no connection to the atrocities against Muslims residing in Rakhine State.
Last year, Wirathu was banned from making public speeches for one year.
In response to a question about Wirathu’s account, Facebook said last month that his account could be suspended or removed from the platform.
“If a person consistently shares content promoting hate, we may take a range of actions such as temporarily suspending their ability to post and ultimately, removal of their account.”
Facebook apparently took no action, however.
The US-based company has made no immediate response to the recent criticism.