Facebook bans armed insurgents in Myanmar

Facebook bans armed insurgents in Myanmar
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Facebook announced Tuesday that it has banned four armed insurgent groups in Myanmar, the country where the United Nations (UN) says Facebook played a "determining role" in inciting the genocide of tens of thousands of Rohingya Muslims.  

The social media giant has sought to remove violent actors and identify incendiary content for months, after reports indicated Myanmar's military officials stoked hatred and fear on the platform as the military engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the persecuted Muslim minority.  

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Facebook announced that it was removing four "dangerous" organizations – Arakan Army, the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army, Kachin Independence Army and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army – in its latest effort to weed out those that seek to use the platform to "spread hate, incite violence or fuel tension on the ground," the company wrote in a blog post.

The groups are four of the many ethnic armed groups in Myanmar, and together, they have been blamed for dozens of deaths and the displacement of thousands.  

The groups have not joined the country's government-led ceasefire. 

"There is clear evidence that these organizations have been responsible for attacks against civilians and have engaged in violence in Myanmar, and we want to prevent them from using our services to further inflame tensions on the ground," Facebook wrote in the post. 

The UN has called for an investigation into Myanmar's military leaders for committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide against the Rohingya people. The genocidal efforts against the Rohingya Muslims forced an estimated 700,000 people to flee the country and settle in refugee camps in Bangladesh.    

An independent report commissioned by Facebook found that hateful posts on Facebook, often based on misinformation, led directly to stoking violence on the ground. The report, from Business for Social Responsibility, found that Facebook was "a means for those seeking to spread hate and cause harm." 

"Over the past year, we have repeatedly taken action against violent actors and bad content on Facebook in Myanmar," Facebook wrote on Tuesday. "The ethnic violence happening in Myanmar is horrific and we don’t want our services to be used to spread hate, incite violence or fuel tension on the ground." 

Its strategy includes removing fake accounts, banning violent actors, building more effective tools to weed out dangerous posts before users see them, and increasing its team of Burmese language content translators.