United Nations human rights experts investigating a possible genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar on Monday blamed Facebook for spreading hatred against the community. Marzuki Darusman, the chairperson of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said the social media giant played a “determining role” in the alleged genocide in Rakhine state.
“It [hate speech] has … substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict, if you will, within the public,” said Darusman, according to The Guardian. “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.”
UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee said the government used Facebook to disseminate information to the public. “Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar,” she said at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, reported ABC Online. “It 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, Facebook had said that it was working to remove hate speech and ban the people spreading it. On February 27, Facebook disabled the page of Ashin Wirathu, a monk from Myanmar who had once been dubbed as the “Buddhist Bin Laden”, for allegedly sharing inflammatory posts about Muslims. However, the social media giant did not respond to fresh criticism.
Lakhs of Rohingya Muslims have fled from Rakhine state to neighbouring Bangladesh since August 2017, when security forces began a violent crackdown against the community. The United Nations and the United States have called it “ethnic cleansing”.