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Facebook defends track record on fighting Myanmar hate speech

AFP  |  Yangon 

- today said it is "seriously" fighting hate speech in Myanmar, following blistering criticism from UN officials who said the platform had morphed into a "beast" that helps spread vitriol against Muslims.

The giant has faced mounting pressure to snuff out inflammatory posts aimed at the Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority that the UN says are victims of army-led ethnic cleansing.

While the military campaign launched last August has been castigated abroad, it enjoys broad domestic support in a mainly Buddhist country where Islamophobia has been stewing for years.

Yesterday, two UN officials tasked with looking into abuses in took shots at as part of a hearing.

When asked whether the platform was good or bad for the emerging democracy, UN special rapporteur told reporters it was both but had incited "a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the or other ethnic minorities."

"And I am afraid that has now turned into a beast than what it was originally intended to be used in other parts of the world too," she added.

Marzuki Darusman, of a UN fact-finding mission on Myanmar, told the UN rights council that "hate speech and incitement to violence on is rampant, particularly on Facebook," according to a written statement of his remarks.

Facebook has seen a meteoric rise in Myanmar, a fledgling democracy shaking off 50 years of brutal junta rule.

But it has drawn criticism for a take-off that has coincided with a rise in ethnically-charged hate speech and violence, particularly in

Calls for action have grown louder since the crisis erupted last year, sending some 700,000 of the minority fleeing across the border since August.

In response to the UN criticism, a Facebook on Tuesday defended the site's anti-hate speech strategy and said it had invested significantly in technology and local language expertise in

"We take this incredibly seriously and have worked with experts in for several years to develop safety resources and counter-speech campaigns," the said.

"Of course, there is always more we can do and we will continue to work with local experts to help keep our community safe."

has also accused Rohingya activists of spreading misinformation about the to garner global sympathy for their plight.

In late January Facebook removed the page of popular anti-Rohingya monk Wirathu, and last year it regulated the use of the word "kalar" which is considered derogatory against Muslims.

Analysts are mixed about what role the platform should play in regulating content.

"There is a blurred line between freedom of speech and hate crime," said Lennon Chang, a in criminology in

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

First Published: Tue, March 13 2018. 18:30 IST