Home / Tag Archives: myanmar

Tag Archives: myanmar

Myanmar jails Reuters reporters who uncovered military atrocity

Reporting the news isn’t illegal, unless you’re in Myanmar. The Southeast Asian country this week sentenced two reporters from Reuters to seven years in jail in response to an investigative report that uncovered atrocities committed against Rohingya Muslims by the army. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, the two Reuters staffers, have been in custody since December. They were arrested for possession of official government documents which had been given to them by a member of the police force as part of the investigation. That puts them in violation of the colonial-time Official Secrets Act which bars civilians from accessing government information. The landmark decision has been derided worldwide. Critics argue that the Reuters reporters are being made an example of because they surfaced the untold story of an atrocity that involved the military, which controlled Myanmar for nearly 50 years until general elections were introduced in 2015. The ethnic tension for the Rohingya in Myanmar has gained global awareness in recent years, but less is known about the role that the military has played in both escalated tensions and also through outright atrocities. The Reuters report which the duo contributed to detailed how members of the army, alongside Buddhist villagers, killed 10 Rohingya men in a coastal village. “Today’s appalling verdict has condemned two innocent men to years behind bars. Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo face lengthy jail terms simply because they dared to ask uncomfortable questions about military atrocities in Rakhine State. These convictions must be quashed, and both men immediately and unconditionally released,” Tirana Hassan, Amnesty International’s Director of Crisis Response, said in a statement . “The outrageous convictions of the Reuters journalists show Myanmar courts’ willingness to muzzle those reporting on military atrocities. These sentences mark a new low for press freedom and further backsliding on rights under Aung San Suu Kyi’s government,” said Bill Adams , Human Rights Watch’s Asia director. Facebook bans Myanmar military accounts for ‘enabling human rights abuses’

Read More »

Facebook bans Myanmar military accounts for ‘enabling human rights abuses’

Facebook is cracking down on the military leadership in Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country where the social network has been identified as a factor contributing to ethnic tension and violence. The U.S. company said today that it removed accounts belonging to Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, who is commander-in-chief of the armed forces, and the military-owned Myawady television network. In total, the purge has swept up 18 Facebook accounts, 52 Facebook Pages and an Instagram account after the company “found evidence that many of these individuals and organizations committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in the country.” Some 30 million of Myanmar’s 50 million population is estimated to use Facebook, making it a hugely effective broadcast network. But with wide reach comes the potential with misuse, as has been most evident in the U.S. But the Facebook effect is also huge far from the U.S.  A report from the UN issued in March  determined that Facebook had played a “determining role” in Myanmar’s crisis. The situation in the country is so severe that an estimated 700,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees are thought to have fled to neighboring Bangladesh following a Myanmar government crackdown that began in August. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has  labeled  the actions as ethnic cleansing. Facebook’s action today comes a week after an investigative report from Reuters  found more than 1,000 posts, comments and images that attacked Rohingya and other Muslim users on the platform. “During a recent investigation, we discovered that they used seemingly independent news and opinion Pages to covertly push the messages of the Myanmar military. This type of behavior is banned on Facebook because we want people to be able to trust the connections they make,” Facebook said in a statement. “While we were too slow to act, we’re now making progress – with better technology to identify hate speech, improved reporting tools, and more people to review content,” it added.

Read More »

Facebook expands downvote tests on comments

Mark Twain had it right: There’s no such thing as a new idea. To wit: Facebook is currently testing arrows to let users ‘up’ vote or ‘down’ vote individual comments in some of its international markets. Digg eat your heart out. Reddit roll over. This particular trial of upvoting/downvoting buttons is limited to New Zealand and Australia for now, according to Facebook (via  The Guardian ). The latest test is a bit different to a downvote test Facebook ran in the US back in February — when it just offered a downvote option. (And if clicked it hid the comment and gave users additional reporting options such as: “Offensive”, “Misleading”, and “Off Topic”.) The latest international test looks a bit less negative — with an overall score being recorded next to the arrows which could at least reward users with some positive feels if their comment gets lots of upvotes. Negative scores could do the opposite though. It’s not certain whether the company will commit to rolling out the feature in this form — a spokesman told us this is an early test, with no decision made on whether to roll it out for Facebook’s 2.2BN+ user base — but its various tests in this area suggest it’s interested in having another signal for rating or ranking comments. In a statement attributed to a spokesperson it told us: “People have told us they would like to see better public discussions on Facebook, and want spaces where people with different opinions can have more constructive dialogue.  To that end, we’re running a small test in New Zealand which allows people to upvote or downvote comments on public Page posts. Our hope is that this feature will make it easier for us to create such spaces, by ranking the comments that readers believe deserve to rank highest, rather than the comments that get the strongest emotional reaction.” The test looks to have been going on for a couple of weeks at least at this point — a reader emailed TC on April 14 with screengrabs of the trial on comments for New Zealand Commonwealth Games content…   Facebook emphasized the feature is not an official dislike button

Read More »

Twitter doesn’t care that someone is building a bot army in Southeast Asia

Facebook’s lack of attention to how third parties are using its service to reach users ended up with CEO Mark Zuckerberg taking questions from Congressional committees . With that in mind, you’d think that others in the social media space might be more attentive than usual to potentially malicious actors on their platforms. Twitter, however, is turning the other way and insisting all is normal in Southeast Asia, despite the emergence of thousands of bot-like accounts that have followed prominent users in the region en masse over the past month. Scores of reporters and Twitter users with large followers — yours truly included — have noticed swarms of accounts with generic names, no profile photo, no bio and no tweets have followed them over the past month. It’s been a month already and the twitter bots just keep showing up. Anyone else seeing the same thing? pic.twitter.com/YEGcGnUYxd — Lulu Yilun Chen (@luluyilun) April 18, 2018 The deluge of Asia @Twitter bot follows continues unabated. Sigh pic.twitter.com/jD5JbOQnT2 — Jerome Taylor (@JeromeTaylor) April 10, 2018 These accounts might be evidence of a new ‘bot farm’ — the creation of large numbers of accounts for sale or usage on-demand which Twitter has cracked down on — or the groundwork for more nefarious activities, it’s too early to tell. In what appears to be the first regional Twitter bot campaign, a flood of suspicious new followers has been reported by users across Southeast Asia and beyond, including Thailand , Myanmar  Cambodia , Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Sri Lanka among other places. While it is true that the new accounts have done nothing yet, the fact that a large number of newly-created accounts have popped up out of nowhere with the aim of following the region’s most influential voices should be enough to concern Twitter. Especially since this is Southeast Asia, a region where Facebook is beset with controversies — from its role inciting ethnic hatred in Myanmar , to allegedly assisting censors in Vietnam , witnessing users jailed for violating lese majeste in Thailand , and aiding the election of controversial Philippines leader Duterte . Then there are governments themselves. Vietnam has pledged to build a cyber army  to combat “wrongful views,” while other regimes in Southeast Asia have clamped down on social media users. Despite that, Twitter isn’t commenting. The U.S.

Read More »

In Senate hearing, Zuckerberg faces blame over violence in Myanmar

While the recent Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal is the main focus for American lawmakers questioning Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg today , the company’s record beyond the U.S. raises even more alarms. During the hearing, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy brought up the company’s role in the ongoing ethnic violence in Myanmar, citing one incident where death threats against a Muslim journalist did not meet violate the platform’s rules. In Myanmar, journalists are regularly arrested and even killed for reporting on the government’s activities. “Six months ago I asked your general counsel about Facebook’s role as a breeding ground for hate speech against Rohingya refugees,” Leahy said. “Recently, U.N. investigators blamed Facebook for playing a role in inciting the possible genocide in Myanmar, and there has been genocide there.” Using screenshots mounted on a poster, the Senator cited a specific threat calling for the death of Muslim journalist in the country: “That threat went straight through your detection systems. It spread very quickly and it took attempt after attempt after attempt and the involvement of civil society groups to get you to remove it. Why couldn’t it be removed within 24 hours?” Screenshot from C-Span Leahy interrupted Zuckerberg when he began to opine about the country’s tragedy. “We all agree it’s terrible,” Leahy said, pressing the Facebook founder for substantive answers. Zuckerberg cited the language barrier as one of the main obstacles to proper moderation of hate speech and calls for violence. “Hate speech is very language specific. it’s hard to do it without people who speak the local language and we need to ramp up our effort there dramatically,” Zuckerberg said.

Read More »

Facebook is again criticized for failing to prevent religious conflict in Myanmar

Today marks the start of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s much-anticipated trip to Washington as he attends a hearing with the Senate, before moving on to a Congressional hearing tomorrow. Away from the U.S. political capital, Zuckerberg is engaged in serious discussions about Myanmar with a group of six civil society organizations in the country who took umbrage at his claim that Facebook’s systems had prevented messages aimed at inciting violence between Buddhists and Muslims last September. Following an open letter to Facebook on Friday that claimed the social network had relied on local sources and remains ill-equipped to handle hate speech, Zuckerberg himself stepped in to personally respond. “Thank you for writing it and I apologize for not being sufficiently clear about the important role that your organizations play in helping us understand and respond to Myanmar-related issues, including the September incident you referred to,” Zuckerberg wrote. “In making my remarks, my intention was to highlight how we’re building artificial intelligence to help us better identify abusive, hateful or false content even before it is flagged by our community,” he added. Zuckerberg also claimed Facebook is working to implement new features that include the option to report inappropriate content inside Messenger, and adding more Burmese language reviewers — two suggestions that the Myanmar-based group had raised. The group has, however, fired back again to criticize Zuckerberg’s response which it said is “nowhere near enough to ensure that Myanmar users are provided with the same standards of care as users in the U.S. or Europe.” Young men browse their Facebook wall on their smartphones as they sit in a street in Yangon on August 20, 2015. Facebook remains the dominant social network for US Internet users, while Twitter has failed to keep apace with rivals like Instagram and Pinterest, a study showed. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images) In particular, the six companies are asking Facebook and Zuckerberg to give information around its efforts, including the number of abuse reports it has received, how many have been removed, how quickly it has been done, and its progress on banning accounts. In addition, the group asked for clarity on the number of Burmese content reviewers on staff, the exact mechanisms that are in place for detecting hate speech, and an update on what action Facebook has taken following its last meeting with the group in December. “When things go wrong in Myanmar, the consequences can be really serious — potentially disastrous,” it added. The Cambridge Analytica story has become mainstream news in the U.S.

Read More »

Facebook is again criticized for failing to prevent religious conflict in Myanmar

Today marks the start of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s much-anticipated trip to Washington as he attends a hearing with the Senate, before moving on to a Congressional hearing tomorrow. Away from the U.S. political capital, Zuckerberg is engaged in serious discussions about Myanmar with a group of six civil society organizations in the country who took umbrage at his claim that Facebook’s systems had prevented messages aimed at inciting violence between Buddhists and Muslims last September. Following an open letter to Facebook on Friday that claimed the social network had relied on local sources and remains ill-equipped to handle hate speech, Zuckerberg himself stepped in to personally respond. “Thank you for writing it and I apologize for not being sufficiently clear about the important role that your organizations play in helping us understand and respond to Myanmar-related issues, including the September incident you referred to,” Zuckerberg wrote. “In making my remarks, my intention was to highlight how we’re building artificial intelligence to help us better identify abusive, hateful or false content even before it is flagged by our community,” he added. Zuckerberg also claimed Facebook is working to implement new features that include the option to report inappropriate content inside Messenger, and adding more Burmese language reviewers — two suggestions that the Myanmar-based group had raised. The group has, however, fired back again to criticize Zuckerberg’s response which it said is “nowhere near enough to ensure that Myanmar users are provided with the same standards of care as users in the U.S. or Europe.” Young men browse their Facebook wall on their smartphones as they sit in a street in Yangon on August 20, 2015. Facebook remains the dominant social network for US Internet users, while Twitter has failed to keep apace with rivals like Instagram and Pinterest, a study showed. AFP PHOTO / Nicolas ASFOURI (Photo credit should read NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP/Getty Images) In particular, the six companies are asking Facebook and Zuckerberg to give information around its efforts, including the number of abuse reports it has received, how many have been removed, how quickly it has been done, and its progress on banning accounts. In addition, the group asked for clarity on the number of Burmese content reviewers on staff, the exact mechanisms that are in place for detecting hate speech, and an update on what action Facebook has taken following its last meeting with the group in December. “When things go wrong in Myanmar, the consequences can be really serious — potentially disastrous,” it added. The Cambridge Analytica story has become mainstream news in the U.S. and other parts of the world, yet less is known of Facebook’s role in spreading religious hatred in Myanmar, where the government stands accused of ethnic cleansing following its treatment of the minority Muslim Rohingya population.

Read More »