Misinformation has lead to violent attacks against Rohingya but report says company has been slow to respond
Facebooks efforts to crack down on hate speech in Myanmar, which has contributed to violent attacks against the minority Muslim population, have been inadequate, according to a Reuters investigation.
The social media company has faced warnings from human rights groups and researchers that its platform was being used to spread misinformation and promote hatred of Muslims, particularly the Rohingya, since 2013. As Facebook has grown its user base in the country to 18 million, hate speech has exploded, but the company has been slow to respond to the growing crisis.
Reuters and the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley School of Law found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments, images and videos attacking Myanmars Muslims including some material that had been on the site for six years live on the platform until it reported them to Facebook last week.
One post, published in December 2013, featured a picture of Rohingya-style food and the message We must fight them the way Hitler did the Jews, damn kalars!, using a derogatory term for the Rohingya. Another user commented on a blogpost depicting a boat full of Rohingya refugees arriving in Indonesia: Pour fuel and set fire so that they can meet Allah faster.
Other posts used dehumanising language, describing Rohingya or other Muslims as dogs, rapists and maggots and calling for them to be shot or exterminated. There were also pornographic anti-Muslim images. Facebooks community standards prohibit pornography and posts that attack ethnic groups with violent or dehumanising speech or compare them to animals.
In April, shortly after United Nations investigators condemned Facebooks role as a vehicle for acrimony, dissension and conflict in Myanmar, Mark Zuckerberg told US senators that the company was hiring dozens more Burmese-speaking content moderators to review hate speech.
For many people in Myanmar, Facebook is the internet. It is one of the primary ways people get their news and entertainment online as well as messaging. Its growth has been fuelled by the fact that it is zero-rated by some of the countrys mobile phone operators, meaning people dont have to pay data charges to use it.
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