Facebook has agreed to allegations against it that held it responsible for not being able to stop its platform from being used to “incite offline violence” in Myanmar, the largest social media platform has said.
The platform had created an “enabling environment” for the propagation of abuse of human rights abuse, said an independent report which was commissioned by Facebook.
The report is in regards to the indiscriminate violence against the Rohingya minority ion Myanmar which has been termed as a genocide by the United Nations.
Facebook would have to “get it right” before 2020 elections, said the report.
There are over 18 million users of Facebook in Myanmar. Many have claimed that Facebook is the main or in some case the only means to get and share news.
While admitting that more remains to be done in Myanmar, the social media platform claimed that it has made some progress in addressing the issues there.
Last year, following incidents of militancy by Rohingya militants on police posts, a violent crackdown in Rakhine state was initiated by the Myanmar military.
It is alleged that this resulted in deaths of thousands of Rohingya and over 700,000 Rohingya being forced to flee Myanmar into neighbouring Bangladesh. The UN also received widespread allegations of the Myanmar military committing rampant human rights abuses, including arbitrary killing, rape and burning of land.
The Rohingya have been discriminated against by the government and public for decades because they are viewed to be illegal migrants in Myanmar.
Facebook was accused by the UN and criticised to be slow and ineffective with respect Myanmar to react to the spread of violence on its platform, in a report published by the global agency which had triggered the investigations to be commissioned by Facebook.
The report has been prepared by the not for profit organization Business for Social Responsibility (NSR) and it noted that Facebook “has become a means for those seeking to spread hate and cause harm” in Myanmar.
“A minority of users are seeking to exploit Facebook as a platform to undermine democracy and incite offline violence”, the report said.
It further said that the social media platform be more strict in enforcing the current policies on fate speech and it should also implement a “stand-alone human rights policy”.
While briefly mentioning the Rohingya specifically, the report also issued warnings about the 2020 elections in Myanmar and said that this was a serious risk for Facebook in terms of more human rights abuses and hence the social media platform should prepare itself and its platform immediately for “multiple eventualities”.
Facebook is the internet for many in Myanmar.
The UN report in August this year highlighted that the Burmese people were exposed to inflammatory material every day which had a significant role to play in the enabling the military’s atrocities against the Rohingya Muslims from Rakhine state.
“We agree that we can and should do more. We have invested heavily… to examine and address the abuse of Facebook in Myanmar,” said Facebook’s product policy manager., Alex Warofka in a statement.
Facebook has already banned several Myanmar military and government figures it said had “inflamed ethnic and religious tensions”.
(Adapted from BBC.com)