Facebook said it had banned the Myanmar military from using its Facebook and Instagram platforms with immediate effect, as pro-democracy demonstrators continued to stage rallies to protest against the military seizing power.
- Facebook said it would also ban all “Tadmadaw-linked commercial entities” from advertising
- It said the decision came due to exceptionally severe human rights abuses
- Meanwhile, students and doctors in Myanmar plan to hold new protests
“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,” Facebook said in a blog post.
“We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw [Myanmar army] on Facebook and Instagram are too great.”
The army seized power this month after alleging fraud in a November 8 election swept by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD), detaining her and much of the party leadership.
At least three protesters and one policeman have been killed in violence at rallies.
The US tech giant said it would also ban all “Tatmadaw-linked commercial entities” from advertising on its platforms.
It said the decision to ban the Myanmar army came due to “exceptionally severe human rights abuses and the clear risk of future military-initiated violence in Myanmar”, as well as the army’s repeated history of violating Facebook’s rules, including since the coup.
The military government could not immediately be reached for comment.
Facebook is widely used in Myanmar and has been one of the ways the junta has communicated with people, despite an official move to ban on the platform in the early days of the coup.
Facebook in recent years has engaged with civil rights activists and democratic political parties in Myanmar and pushed back against the military after facing international criticism for failing to contain online hate campaigns.
In 2018, it banned army chief Min Aung Hlaing — now the military ruler — and 19 other senior officers and organisations, and took down hundreds of pages and accounts run by military members for coordinated inauthentic behaviour.
Ahead of November elections, Facebook announced it had taken down a network of 70 fake accounts and pages operated by members of the military that had posted either positive content about the army or criticism of Ms Suu Kyi and her party.
The platform said there had been attempts to rebuild army-run networks it had previously removed.
Myanmar students, doctors plan more protests
Meanwhile, students and doctors in Myanmar plan to hold new protests against military rule, while the United States has expressed concern about Malaysia’s deportation of about 1,100 Myanmar nationals back to the strife-torn nation.
There have been about three weeks of daily protests.
On Thursday (local time), students pledged to rally in the commercial hub of Yangon, with demonstrators urged to bring text books promoting military education so they could destroy them at the protest.
About 1,000 supporters of the military also gathered for a counter-protest in central Yangon.
Residents banged pots and pans to show their disapproval and some scuffles broke out between the two sides, witnesses said.
Many professionals and government workers have also joined a civil disobedience campaign of strikes against the coup, with doctors due to hold a protest as part of a so-called white coat revolution.
The Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) rights group said as of Wednesday 728 people had been arrested, charged or sentenced in relation to the pro-democracy protests.