Social media giant Facebook on Wednesday acknowledged that it had been “too slow” to prevent the spread of misinformation and hate on its platform in Myanmar. The company said it was investing heavily in artificial intelligence and a dedicated team to address the problem.
The statement follows a Reuters investigation highlighting the lack of resources the company was devoting to curb hate speech in a country ridden by ethnic violence for the last several years. The report said that Facebook had only two Burmese speakers to monitor such posts in early 2015.
The investigation by the news agencydetected over 1,000 examples of posts, comments, images and videos against the Rohingya and other Muslims on the platform last week.
Facebook said it now had at least 60 Myanmar language experts reviewing content and planned to increase that number to 100 by the end of 2018. “It has also become clear that in Myanmar, false news can be used to incite violence, especially when coupled with ethnic and religious tensions,” the firm said in a statement. “We have updated our credible violence policies to account for this, removing misinformation that has the potential to contribute to imminent violence or physical harm.”
The firm said it is collaborating with independent organisations to identify and take down posts that have been flagged. “This new policy will be global, but we are initially focusing our work on countries where false news has had life or death consequences,” the statement said. These include Sri Lanka, India, Cameroon, and the Central African Republic as well as Myanmar.”
The social media firm said it was working on a way to interpret the Burmese script as the company is very reliant on users flagging objectionable content.
Lakhs of Rohingya Muslims have fled from Rakhine to neighbouring Bangladesh since August 2017, after security forces began a violent crackdown against the community. The United Nations and the United States have called it “ethnic cleansing”, and Aung San Suu Kyi has faced widespread criticism for not doing enough to stop the persecution.