World Rights group: Facebook amplified Myanmar military propaganda
Aung San Suu Kyi: Trial begins for ousted Myanmar leader following military coup
Myanmar's ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi went on trial Monday, more than four months after the country's military seized power in a coup. © KOEN VAN WEEL/ANP/AFP/Getty Images TOPSHOT - Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi looks on before the UN's International Court of Justice on December 11, 2019 in the Peace Palace of The Hague, on the second day of her hearing on the Rohingya genocide case. - Aung San Suu Kyi appears at the UN's top court today, a day after the former democracy icon was urged to "stop the genocide" against Rohingya Muslims.
Facebook's recommendation algorithm amplifies military propaganda and other material that breaches the company's own policies in Myanmar following the country's military coup in February, a new report by the rights group Global Witness has found.
A month after the military seized power in Myanmar and imprisoned elected leaders, Facebook's algorithms were still prompting users to view and “like” pro-military pages with posts that incited and threatened violence, pushed misinformation that could lead to physical harm, praised the military and glorified its abuses, Global Witness said in the report, published late Tuesday.
Myanmar footballer to seek asylum in Japan: reports
A goalkeeper from Myanmar's national team who raised an anti-coup salute during a match outside Tokyo has refused to fly home and will seek asylum in Japan, local media reported. Last month, substitute goalkeeper Pyae Lyan Aung raised the three-finger salute as the national anthem played before a World Cup qualifier against Japan. Late Wednesday, he told a Japanese immigration officer at an airport in Osaka that he would not board a plane back to Myanmar, national broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News agency reported."If I return to Myanmar, my life would be in danger.
That's even though the social media giant vowed to remove such content following the coup. Itthat it would remove Myanmar military and military-controlled pages from its site and from Instagram, which it also owns, and has since enacted a host of other measures intended to reduce offline harm in the country.
Facebook said Tuesday its teams “continue to closely monitor the situation in Myanmar in real-time and take action on any posts, Pages or Groups that break our rules.”
In a Feb. 1 coup, Myanmar's military removed elected leaders from power and jailed others. Days later, the military temporarily blocked access to Facebook because it was being used to share anti-coup comments and organize protests. Access was later restored. In the following weeks, Facebook continued to tighten its policies against the military, banning all military entities from its platforms and saying it would remove praise or support for violence against citizens and their arrest.
UN alarmed by abuse of civilians in growing Myanmar conflict
BANGKOK (AP) — The United Nations’ office in Myanmar expressed concern Thursday about escalating human rights abuses after reports that a group opposed to the junta may have executed 25 civilians it captured and allegations that troops had burned down a village. The struggle between the military regime that took power in February after ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and those opposing it has sharpened in recent months. © Provided by Associated Press An internally displaced woman sits inside her makeshift tent at Pu Phar Village, Demawso Township, Kayah State on Thursday June 17, 2021.
“Once again, Facebook shows that it’s good at making broad sweeping announcements and bad at actually enforcing them. They’ve had years to improve their work in Myanmar but once again they are still failing,” said Sophie Zhang, aand whistleblower who found evidence of political manipulation in countries such as Honduras and Azerbaijan while she worked there.
Photos Show Smoldering Ruins of Myanmar Town, Burned to Ground by Government Troops
"We think it isn't over. We will shift to other villages. Even if we go back to our village, there is no place to stay because everything is burnt," a villager told the Associated Press.The unnamed resident of the now-destroyed Kinma village in central Myanmar said he believed military forces came to search for members of a village defense force in opposition of the country's ruling military junta. The local defense force told residents of the troops' arrival beforehand and after homes were searched, the troops destroyed the village.
On the ground, soldiers and police have killed hundreds of protesters. Last week, the United Nations’ office in Myanmarabout escalating human rights abuses after reports that a group opposed to the junta may have executed 25 civilians it captured and allegations that troops had burned down a village.
The struggle between the military regime that took power in February after ousting the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi and those opposing it has sharpened in recent months.
Myanmar, also known as Burma, had over 22.3 million Facebook users in January 2020, more than 40% of its population, according to social media management platform NapoleonCat.
“What happens on Facebook matters everywhere, but in Myanmar that is doubly true," the report says. As in many countries outside the Western Hemisphere, mobile phones in Myanmar often come pre-loaded with Facebook and many businesses do not have a website, only a Facebook page. For many people in the country, Facebook effectively is the internet.
On March 23, just before theagainst civilians, Global Witness said it set up a new, clean Facebook account with no history of liking or following specific topics and searched for “Tatmadaw”, the Burmese name for the armed forces. It filtered the search results to show pages, and selected the top result — a military fan page whose name translates as “a gathering of military lovers.”
Myanmar junta leader arrives in Moscow for security conference
Myanmar's junta chief arrived in Moscow on Sunday to attend a security conference, marking only his second known trip abroad since he seized power in a coup. Myanmar has been in turmoil since the military overthrew civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy (NLD) government in February. Junta leader Min Aung Hlaing left the capital Naypyidaw Sunday on a special flight to attend the Moscow Conference for International Security, state-run MRTV said.He was attending at "the invitation of Russian Defence Minister," it said, adding he had been "greeted" by the Russian ambassador to Myanmar at the airport.
Older posts on this page showed sympathy for Myanmar's soldiers and at least two advertised for young people to join the military — but none of the newer posts since the coup violated Facebook's policies. However, when Global Witness's account “liked" the page, Facebook began recommending related pages with material inciting violence, false claims of election interference and support of violence against civilians.
A March 1 post, for instance, includes a a death threat against protesters who vandalize surveillance cameras.
“Those who threaten female police officers from the traffic control office and violently destroy the glass and destroy CCTV, those who cut the cables, those who vandalize with color sprays, (we) have been given an order to shoot to kill them on the spot,” reads part of the post in translation, according to the report. “Saying this before Tatmadaw starts doing this. If you don’t believe and continue to do this, go ahead. If you are not afraid to die, keep going.”
Facebook said its ban of the Tatmadaw and other measures have “made it harder for people to misuse our services to spread harm. This is a highly adversarial issue and we continue to take action on content that violates our policies to help keep people safe.”
Global Witness said its findings show that Facebook fails to uphold the “very basics" of its own guidelines.
“The platform operates too much like a walled garden, its algorithms are designed, trained, and tweaked without adequate oversight or regulation," said Naomi Hirst, head of the digital threats campaign at Global Witness. “This secrecy has to end, Facebook must be made accountable.”
Myanmar jade industry becoming 'slush fund' for junta: report .
Myanmar's multi-billion-dollar jade mines risk becoming a "slush fund" for military repression, Global Witness said Tuesday, urging consumers to boycott purchasing any jade and gemstones from the coup-wracked nation. With the military taking control of licensing, the industry now risks "becoming a slush fund and source of patronage" for the junta as it looks to secure its grip on power, international watchdog Global Witness said in a report released Tuesday.