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Facebook admits not doing enough to prevent Myanmar violence

AP  |  New York 

is admitting that it didn't do enough to prevent its services from being used to incite and spread hate in

Alex Warofka, a product policy manager, said in a blog post that "can and should do more" to protect human rights and ensure it isn't used to foment division and spread offline in the country.

had commissioned the nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility to study the company's role in and released the group's 62-page report late Monday.

Facebook has gotten heavy criticism for permitting itself to be used to inflame ethnic and religious conflict in the country, particularly against minority Rohingya Muslims. The report confirms this and offers recommendations, including preparing for "massive chaos and manipulation" in the country's 2020

"Facebook has become a means for those seeking to spread hate and cause harm, and posts have been linked to offline violence," the report says.

"A minority of users is seeking to use Facebook as a platform to undermine democracy and incite offline violence, including serious crimes under international law."

The report comes as Facebook and other companies face a trove of problems in dealing with people, groups and nations intent on using their services for malicious reasons, whether that's inciting violence, spreading hate messages, propaganda and misinformation or meddling with elections around the world.

Facebook is focused on rooting out misinformation in the US, but it's also dealing with people using its platforms to incite in Sri Lanka, and elsewhere.

Late Monday, Facebook said it shut down 30 Facebook accounts and 85 accounts for suspected "coordinated inauthentic behavior" linked to foreign groups attempting to interfere in Tuesday's US midterm elections.

Facebook and entered Myanmar quickly, and the report notes that this has led to a "steep learning curve for users, policymakers, and "


The report notes that Facebook "is the Internet" for many in Myanmar and that it has played an important role in supporting freedom of expression and helping activists organise.

At the same time, the report said, hate and harassment is leading to self-censorship among "vulnerable groups such as political activists, human rights defenders, women, and minorities."

Facebook released the report on the eve of the US midterm elections, prompting critics to question its timing when so many people are focused on other

Facebook says the report was focused on "Myanmar stakeholders," for whom the U.S. elections are not a priority. Facebook also said it had promised to share the results of the assessment once it had them.

The report does acknowledge that Facebook has made progress, but adds that there is "more to do." In August, the company banned Myanmar's and 19 other individuals and organisations from its service to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, November 07 2018. 03:45 IST
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