Meta has reportedly confirmed it has expanded its ban against the Myanmar-military on its Facebook platform.

A Meta executive was quoted by Reuters on Wednesday as saying that Facebook will now ban all Myanmar-military controlled businesses from having a presence on its platform.

This is an expansion of Facebook’s earlier restrictions on the country’s security forces, after it said in February this year it would stop all entities linked to the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, from advertising on its platforms.

Business ban

“This action is based on extensive documentation by the international community and civil society of these businesses’ direct role in funding the Tatmadaw,” Rafael Frankel, Meta’s Pacific director of public policy for emerging countries, Asia Pacific, was quoted by Reuters as saying.

Frankel reportedly said Meta was identifying the companies based on a 2019 report from a UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, research from activist groups Justice for Myanmar and Burma Campaign UK, as well consultations with civil society.

He told Reuters Facebook had already taken down over 100 accounts, pages, and groups linked to military-controlled businesses.

Myanmar’s military overthrew Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government in a coup in February 2021, prompting widespread protests.

The military junta did not response to requests for comment, but it reportedly banned Facebook in February anyway.

Myanmar (Burma)

The expanded ban on Tatmadaw comes just days after Meta was sued for $150 billion by dozens of Rohingya refugees in the UK and US.

They alleged that the social networking giant did not take action against anti-Rohingya hate speech that contributed to violence in 2017, that resulted in more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing the country, after a military crackdown that refugees said included mass killings and rape.

Myanmar authorities denied carrying out atrocities, and said they were battling an insurgency.

Facebook reportedly plays an important role in Myanmar as the dominant internet channel and remains widely used by both protesters against military rule and soldiers.

In 2018, UN human rights investigators alleged the use of Facebook had played a key role in spreading hate speech that fuelled the violence.

Meta in 2018 admitted it had not done enough, and reportedly said it was “too slow to prevent misinformation and hate” in Myanmar and has said it has since taken steps to crack down on platform abuses in the region, including banning the military from Facebook and Instagram after the 1 February 2021 coup.

Frankel for his part declined to comment on the lawsuit, but said: “We’re appalled by the crimes committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar. We’ve built a dedicated team of Burmese speakers, banned the Tatmadaw, disrupted networks manipulating public debate and taken action on harmful misinformation to help keep people safe.”

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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