Facebook on Tuesday admitted that it did not do enough to prevent the spread of violence and hate speech against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar.
Facebook Product Policy Manager Alex Warofka said the company had reached the conclusion after studying an impact assessment of the role of its services in the country. “The report concludes that, prior to this year, we were not doing enough to help prevent our platform from being used to foment division and incite offline violence,” Warofka said in a blog post. “We agree that we can and should do more.”
The company said that according to the report by the independent non-profit Business for Social Responsibility, it should play an active role in advocacy aimed at policy, legal, and regulatory reforms in Myanmar because the country lacks a legal framework in line with universal human rights principles, and is a hotbed of cultural, religious and ethnic tensions.
“BSR recommends that Facebook adopt a stand-alone human rights policy, establish formalised governance structures to oversee the company’s human rights strategy, and provide regular updates on progress made,” said the social media company.
Facebook said it has taken action against 64,000 pieces of content published from Myanmar for violating its hate speech policies. The social media network added that it plans to increase the number of native Myanmarese content reviewers to at least 100 by the end of the year. “We have now hired and onboarded 99 of these reviewers,” the firm said. “This team is making a difference, improving the development and enforcement of our policies.”
The social media network said it has also updated its credible violence policy to remove misinformation “that has the potential to contribute to imminent violence or physical harm”. The system for detecting hate speech has been updated and it is taking “more aggressive action on networks of accounts set up to mislead others about who they are, or what they’re doing”, Warofka added.
More than seven lakh Rohingya Muslims fled to neighbouring Bangladesh after the Myanmar Army launched a crackdown in Rakhine state in August 2017 in response to attacks supposedly by the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army, an insurgent group, on police posts and a military base.