New York, March 14: The United Nations (UN) on Tuesday warned that social media giant Facebook's platform is contributing to the spread of hate speech and ethnic violence in a crisis-hit Myanmar. UN human rights experts investigating a possible genocide in Rakhine state warned that Facebook's platform is being used by ultra-nationalist Buddhists to incite violence and hatred against the Rohingya and other ethnic minorities.
A security crackdown in the country last summer led to around 650,000 Rohingya Muslims fleeing into neighboring Bangladesh. Since then there have been multiple reports of state-led violence against the refugees, and the UN has been leading a fact-finding mission in the country.
This remark by the United Nations is a black mark against social media, at a time when the technology industry's reputation as an accelerator of false news, is already garnering support. The government of Sri Lanka also sought to block access to Facebook and two other of its social services, WhatsApp and Instagram, in an attempt to stem mob violence against its local Muslim minority - citing inflammatory social media posts, according to TechCrunch.
"These platforms are banned because they were spreading hate speeches and amplifying them," a government spokesman told the New York Times.
Further, speaking to reporters, UN investigator Yanghee Lee, described Facebook as a huge part of public, civil and private life in Myanmar, noting it is used by the government to disseminate information to the public. "Everything is done through Facebook in Myanmar. It was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists have their own Facebooks and are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities," TechCrunch quoted Lee as saying. "I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast, and not what it originally intended," she added.