Months after reports emerged about the role Facebook’s platform has played in inciting ethnic hatred in Myanmar, the company announced it has banned several Myanmar military officials in an effort to “prevent the spread of hate and misinformation.”
The latest move comes days after more damning evidence that the social networking platform was still chock full of “posts, comments and pornographic images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims,” according to an investigation by Reuters.
Once again, Facebook officials offered a mea culpa, and attempted to describe what efforts they are making to curb abuse that has led to deadly violence in the country.
“While we were too slow to act, we’re now making progress – with better technology to identify hate speech, improved reporting tools, and more people to review content,” the company wrote. “Today, we are taking more action in Myanmar: we’re removing a total of 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook Pages, followed by almost 12 million people. We are preserving data on the accounts and Pages we have removed.”
In the announcement, Facebook said it was banning 20 individuals and organizations in Myanmar, a group that includes Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the military’s Myawady television network.
“International experts, most recently in a report by the UN Human Rights Council-authorized Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, have found evidence that many of these individuals and organizations committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in the country,” the company wrote. “And we want to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions.”
All together, Facebook said it removed six Pages and six accounts, plus one account from Instagram, that were all linked to the individuals or organizations. It also took down another 46 Pages and 12 accounts “for engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook.”
“We continue to work to prevent the misuse of Facebook in Myanmar — including through the independent human rights impact assessment we commissioned earlier in the year,” the company wrote. “This is a huge responsibility given so many people there rely on Facebook for information — more so than in almost any other country given the nascent state of the news media and the recent rapid adoption of mobile phones. It’s why we’re so determined to do better in the future.”