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UN officials blast Facebook over spread of Rohingya hate speech

13 March 2018, 09:39 | Cameron Gross

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

UN investigator blames Facebook for spreading hate against Rohingyas

Over 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have taken refuge in Bangladesh after fleeing Myanmars' Rakhine state after insurgent attacks led to a security crackdown last August. Marzuki Darusman, the chairperson of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said the social media giant played a "determining role" in the alleged genocide in Rakhine state.

Delivering her report to thecCouncil in Geneva, Lee said that to date accountability for the crimes committed in Rakhine state following 25 August 2017, and 9 October 2016, was elusive, adding that this must now be the focus of the global community's efforts to bring long-lasting peace, stability and democratisation to Myanmar.

The government of Sri Lanka also sought to block access to Facebook and two other of its social services, WhatsApp and Instagram, in an attempt to stem mob violence against its local Muslim minority - citing inflammatory social media posts, according to TechCrunch.

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

Similarly, UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee said Facebook's role in disseminating information to the public plays a huge part of the public's life, which has affected their views on the genocide that is taking place. "Hate speech and incitement to violence on social media is rampant, particularly on Facebook".

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.




"Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar", she told reporters, adding that Facebook had helped the impoverished country but had also been used to spread hate speech.

"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".

Facebook said they take the issue "incredibly seriously" and have worked with experts in the country to develop resources and counter-speech campaigns, including a locally illustrated version of the platform's community standards, and regular training sessions for civil society and local community groups.

"Of course, there is always more we can do and we will continue to work with local experts to help keep our community safe", Budhraja said.

In response to the United Nations criticism, a Facebookspokesperson on Tuesday defended the site's anti-hate speech strategy and said it had invested significantly in technology and local language expertise in Myanmar.



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