The United Nations has raised concerns about the possible role played by Facebook in what some are calling genocide in Myanmar.
The Guardian reports that over 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have been forced to flee to Bangladesh from Myanmar’s Rakhine state following an alleged spate of murders and rapes. The UN has said there is strong evidence of genocide.
“Hate speech is certainly of course a part of that. As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media,” chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar Marzuki Darusman said.
“It has … substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict, if you will, within the public.”
The UN’s Yanghee Lee added: “[Facebook] was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities.
“I’m afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it originally intended.”
Earlier this week, the Sri Lankan government temporarily banned Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram over fears these networks were “spreading hate speeches and amplifying them”. The decision came after Muslims were attacked in the ancient city of Kandy, which in itself comes on the back of over a quarter of a century of tensions in the country.
“We have clear rules against hate speech and incitement to violence and work hard to keep it off our platform,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “We are responding to the situation in Sri Lanka and are in contact with the government and non-governmental organizations to support efforts to identify and remove such content.”