Facebook has been impacted by a United Nations report that claimed that the genocide to cleanse the country of the Rohingya minority community was brutally carried out by the military of Myanmar and the report also identified and named some of the top military officials who need to be investigated, put on trial and punished for the genocide.
“The role of social media is significant,” the report’s authors wrote. “Facebook has been a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate, in a context where for most users Facebook is the internet. Although improved in recent months, Facebook’s response has been slow and ineffective.”
The report also said: “The extent to which Facebook posts and messages have led to real-world discrimination and violence must be independently and thoroughly examined. The Mission regrets that Facebook is unable to provide country-specific data about the spread of hate speech on its platform, which is imperative to assess the adequacy of its response.”
The UN had been critical of the Facebook since spring when the social media platform had been accused of playing a “determining role” in spreading hate speech by the chairman of the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar. The latest UN report just took the issue a step further.
And in response to its criticism in the report, Facebook said that it was in the process of removing profiles of a number of top Myanmar military officials from its platform as well as an Instagram account so that the spread of “hate and misinformation” could be prevented following review of the content of those accounts.
According to Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja, this is the first time that the social media firm had blocked and removed profiles and user accounts of a country’s military or political leaders.
This move by Facebook also assumes importance because the company has now been able to draw a line between the degree of newsworthiness of a speech and the hate elements in the speech and has taken a decision that newsworthiness cannot be used as a justification for retaining hateful content on the platform. and the action by the social media platform could have a much greater impact in Myanmar where Facebook is equated with the internet.
According to a report in the news agency Reuters, the action by Facebook would essentially result in a complete blackout in online propaganda for the military in the country because this social media platform was virtually its only channel of public communication. Millions of people followed some of the pages that had been created and maintained by the military which would now mostly be unavailable.
(Adapted from TheVerge.com)