- Facebook has banned the Myanmar military from using its platforms, following a coup earlier this month.
- The platform said the decision was made in acknowledgment of the military’s “extreme human rights abuses.”
- Facebook was previously implicated as a tool in the military’s persecution of the Muslim minority Rohingya population.
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Facebook on Wednesday announced that they would be banning Myanmar’s military from its platforms, including Instagram, following a coup d’etat in the country in early February.
Rafael Frankel, the director of policy for APAC emerging countries, wrote in a memo that Instagram and Facebook would no longer allow Myanmar’s state-controlled media pages on its platforms, nor would it allow commercial entities linked to the state to advertise on its platforms.
The platform said the decision was made in acknowledgement of the military’s “extreme human rights abuses,” as well as “on-platform content and behavior violations.”
“The coup,” Frankel wrote, “greatly increases the likelihood that online threats could lead to offline harm.”
The ban follows news earlier this month that Facebook was taking measures to significantly limit the distribution of content made by the Myanmar military.
“Since the coup, we have disabled the Tatmadaw True News Information Team Page, and MRTV and MRTV Live Pages for continuing to violate our policies which prohibit coordinating harm and incitement to violence,” Frankel wrote.
The social platform also said that it had stopped taking requests from military representatives to remove content from its pages.
Facebook has kept a watchful eye on Myanmar for the past several years after the platform was implicated in the persecution of the country’s Rohingya population.
A 2018 investigation from The New York Times found Myanmar’s military had been using Facebook “as a tool for ethnic cleansing,” and created a targeted campaign to turn public opinion against the Muslim minority.
In response to the investigation, Facebook completed an independent assessment by the Business for Social Responsibility, and acknowledged it had been used by repressive factions in the country to “foment division and incite offline violence.”
It also banned 20 members of the military from the platform and removed half a dozen separate networks run by the military.
Around 18 million of the country’s 54 million Burmese use Facebook, according to The Times, though in recent days usage has been down as the military has repeatedly cut internet access.
Instead, many Burmese are using apps like Bridgefy, a bluetooth-based messaging service, to organize.