Facebook expands ban on Burmese military-linked companies | Economic news

By GRANT PECK, Associated Press

BANGKOK (AP) – Facebook’s parent company Meta said on Wednesday it had extended its ban on posts related to the Burmese military to include all pages, groups and accounts representing companies controlled by the military. He had already banned advertising from these companies in February.

The February action, which also barred access to Facebook and Instagram to military and military-controlled state and media entities, followed the military takeover of the elected Aung San government. Suu Kyi.

The new action came just a day after a high-profile lawsuit was filed in California against Facebook’s parent company, Meta Platforms, asking for more than $ 150 billion over the company’s alleged failure to stop posting. hateful acts that incited violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority by the Myanmar military and its supporters, which peaked in 2017.

The army, known in Myanmar as the Tatmadaw, was known for a brutal counterinsurgency campaign in Rakhine State, western Myanmar, which prompted more than 700,000 Rohingyas to seek the safety of across the border in Bangladesh. Critics say the campaign, which included massacres, rapes and arson, amounted to ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide.

Political cartoons about world leaders

Political cartoons

Since taking power in February, security forces have used lethal force to quell non-violent protests against the military regime. At least 1,600 civilians have been killed by security forces, according to a detailed count compiled by the Association for Assistance to Political Prisoners. The army has also been accused of abusing villagers as it fights members of pro-democracy militias in the countryside.

Activists say the military is using the internet to spread disinformation and hate speech. In April, Facebook announced that it was “implementing a Myanmar-specific policy to suppress praise, support and call for violence by Myanmar security forces and protesters on our platform.”

The Burma Campaign UK group, which had sought to get Facebook to do more to limit the reach of the military through its platforms, welcomed the move but noted that Facebook had resisted the removal of military company pages.

“The late decision to suppress the military company pages appears more as an act of desperation after being sued for $ 150 billion for involvement in the Rohingya genocide than as a genuine human rights concern,” said Mark Farmaner, director of Burma Campaign UK, in a statement.

Wednesday’s statement by Rafael Frankel, Meta’s director of Asia-Pacific policy, said the company was taking action “on the basis of extensive documentation from the international community on the direct role of these companies in financing ongoing violence and human rights violations by Tatmadaw in Myanmar “.

The military controls much of Myanmar’s economy, much of it through two large holding companies. Because links to companies are not always clear, Meta said it was using a report compiled by UN investigators in 2019 to identify relevant companies.

In response to abuses against the Rohingya, Facebook in 2018 banned 20 individuals and organizations linked to the military, including Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who now heads the government installed by the military. From 2018 to 2010, Facebook removed six networks of accounts controlled by the military, which did not acknowledge the support.

This year, Facebook turned off pages owned by state media that violated Facebook’s rules for promoting violence and harm to others.

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