ibusinesslines.com March 18, 2018

United Nations investigators cite Facebook role in Myanmar crisis

13 March 2018, 09:39 | Jodi Jackson

United Nations human rights experts blame Facebook for spreading hatred against Rohingya in Myanmar

UN investigator blames Facebook for spreading hate against Rohingyas

To date, more than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state into Bangladesh, with many refugees providing testimonies of executions and rapes by Myanmar's security forces.

Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission in Myanmar told reporters that social media had a "determining role" in spreading hate speech in the country, according to Reuters.

Investigators also found that a certain social-media platform - it rhymes with lace hook - had a hand in helping spread hate speech in Myanmar and fuel unrest.

Social media has "substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict", Darusman told reporters on March 12.

"Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar", Ms Lee said in Geneva yesterday, using the alternative name for Burma.

"I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it originally intended", she said, replying to a question about the merit of the social media platform in the country, which began transitioning to a democracy in 2011.

A top United Nations rights expert on Monday had warned that the crackdown on Myanmar's Rohingya minority bore "the hallmarks of genocide" and insisted the government should be held accountable.

When asked whether the platform was good or bad for the emerging democracy, United Nations special rapporteur Yanghee Lee told reporters it was both but had incited "a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities".

In an emailed statement, Facebook spokesperson Ruchika Budhraja said in part: "There is no place for hate speech or content that promotes violence on Facebook, and we work hard to keep it off our platform".

Facebook has seen a meteoric rise in Myanmar, a fledgling democracy shaking off 50 years of brutal junta rule.

"And I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, (instead of) what it was originally meant to be used (for) - maybe in other parts of the world too".

Calls have been mounting for the creation of a UN-backed investigation to prepare criminal indictments over atrocities committed in Myanmar. But she remains a heroine for most of her compatriots, who largely consider the Rohingya as unwanted illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Facebook had no immediate comment on the criticism on Monday, although in the past the company has said that it was working to remove hate speech in Myanmar and kick off people who shared such content consistently.

"There is a blurred line between freedom of speech and hate crime", said Lennon Chang, a lecturer in criminology in Monash University.

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