UN Finds Facebook Partly to Blame for Fueling Myanmar Genocide


Over 671,000 members of the Muslim Rohingya minority have fled Myanmar's western Rakhine state for neighboring Bangladesh since August 25, many bearing tales of atrocities committed by Myanmar's military, including executions, gang rapes, and the razing of homes and villages.

According to Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, social media had played a "determining role" in Myanmar.

United Nations human rights experts looking into a possible genocide in Myanmar said Facebook had played a role in spreading hate speech there, Reuters reported.

Investigators from the United Nations are now looking into a potential - the investigators recently said they are "becoming more convinced" that a genocide occurred - genocide in Myanmar that happened between October 2016 and August 2017.

Facebook has seen a meteoric rise in Myanmar, a fledgling democracy shaking off 50 years of brutal junta rule. Yanghee Lee, another one of the investigators, said she fears that Facebook, despite all the good it has done for connecting people in Myanmar, has become "a beast".

The United Nations (UN) on Tuesday warned that social media giant Facebook's platform is contributing to the spread of hate speech and ethnic violence in a crisis-hit Myanmar.

Lee said that Facebook was used as the toll by the state government to disseminate information to the public.

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"And I am afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast than what it was originally meant to be used in other parts of the world too", she added.

Wirathu, a prominent face of Myanmar's Buddhist ultra-nationalist movement, had amassed hundreds of thousands of followers on the network, using it as a platform to attack Muslims, singling out the stateless Rohingya minority. But she remains a heroine for most of her compatriots, who largely consider the Rohingya as unwanted illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Calls have been mounting for the creation of a UN-backed investigation to prepare criminal indictments over atrocities committed in Myanmar. "We take this incredibly seriously and have worked with experts in Myanmar for several years to develop safety resources and counter-speech campaigns", a spokesperson said.

"Of course, there is always more we can do and we will continue to work with local experts to help keep our community safe", a Facebook spokesperson told Newsweek in an emailed statement.

"We have invested significantly in technology and local language expertise to help us swiftly remove hate content and people who repeatedly violate our hate speech policies".

"There is a blurred line between freedom of speech and hate crime", said Lennon Chang, a lecturer in criminology in Monash University.