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Should Promote Human Rights More In Myanmar: Facebook

Facebook has roughly 20 million users in Myanmar, according to BSR, which warned Facebook faces several unresolved challenges in Myanmar.

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A cellphone user looks at a Facebook page at a shop in Latha street, Yangon, Myanmar. VOA

Facebook on Monday said a human rights report it commissioned on its presence in Myanmar showed it had not done enough to prevent its social network from being used to incite violence.

The report by San Francisco-based nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) recommended that Facebook more strictly enforce its content policies, increase engagement with both Myanmar officials and civil society groups and regularly release additional data about its progress in the country.

“The report concludes that, prior to this year, we weren’t doing enough to help prevent our platform from being used to foment division and incite offline violence. We agree that we can and should do more,” Alex Warofka, a Facebook product policy manager, said in a blog post.

facebook, U.S., myanmar
A protester wearing a mask with the face of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, in between men wearing angry face emoji masks, is seen during a demonstration against Facebook outside Portcullis in London. VOA

BSR also warned that Facebook must be prepared to handle a likely onslaught of misinformation during Myanmar’s 2020 elections, and new problems as use of its WhatsApp grows in Myanmar, according to the report, which Facebook released.

A Reuters special report in August found that Facebook failed to promptly heed numerous warnings from organizations in Myanmar about social media posts fueling attacks on minority groups such as the Rohingya.

In August 2017 the military led a crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents, pushing more than 700,000 Muslims to neighboring Bangladesh, according to U.N. agencies.

Rohingya, India, myanmar
A man from the Rohingya community fills out an identification form provided by local police inside his shop at a camp in New Delhi. VOA

 

The social media website in August removed several Myanmar military officials from the platform to prevent the spread of “hate and misinformation,” for the first time banning a country’s military or political leaders.

It also removed dozens of accounts for engaging in a campaign that “used seemingly independent news and opinion pages to covertly push the messages of the Myanmar military.”

The move came hours after United Nations investigators said the army carried out mass killings and gang rapes of Muslim Rohingya with “genocidal intent.”

Facebook said it has begun correcting shortcomings.

myanmar, facebook
A deforested section of the Chakmakul camp for Rohingya refugees clings to a hillside in southern Bangladesh, Feb. 13, 2018. VOA

Facebook said that it now has 99 Myanmar language specialists reviewing potentially questionable content. In addition, it has expanded use of automated tools to reduce distribution of violent and dehumanizing posts while they undergo review.

Also Read: Video: Orange Rallies in US Honor Victims of Gun Violence

In the third quarter, the company said it “took action” on about 64,000 pieces of content that violated its hate speech policies. About 63 percent were identified by automated software, up from 52 percent in the prior quarter.

Facebook has roughly 20 million users in Myanmar, according to BSR, which warned Facebook faces several unresolved challenges in Myanmar.

BSR said locating staff there, for example, could aid in Facebook’s understanding of how its services are used locally but said its workers could be targeted by the country’s military, which has been accused by the U.N. of ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya. (VOA)

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47 Attorneys General in US Join Anti-trust Probe Against Facebook

"The District of Columbia has joined this investigation to ensure Facebook is giving a fair shake to district residents and the American people. No company gets a pass if it throttles competitors and exploits consumers," said District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine

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facebook
FILE - The logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square, March 29, 2018. VOA

In fresh trouble for Facebook, 47 attorneys general in the US have officially joined an investigation into Facebook for its anti-competitive market practices.

New York Attorney General Letitia James said the investigation now has the support of 47 attorneys general from around the nation, “who are all concerned that Facebook may have put consumer data at risk, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, and increased the price of advertising”.

“We will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions stifled competition and put users at risk,” James said in a statement late Tuesday.

The investigation launched last month with support from attorneys general from eight states — New York, Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and Washington, DC.

Facebook had earlier said it will work “constructively” with the attorneys general and engage with policy makers in a discussion about the competitive environment.

“Social media is a critical part of doing business in today’s economy. Any effort by Facebook to unlawfully stifle competition could cause wide-ranging harm to smaller companies, restrict consumer choice, and increase costs for all,” said Connecticut Attorney General William Tong.

According to Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, “We are investigating whether Facebook has broken the law through anti-competitive practices or other acts that harm consumers.”

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An iPhone displays the app for Facebook in New Orleans, Aug. 11, 2019. VOA

In a stern warning to tech giants, the US House Anti-Trust Committee has opened probes into Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and other tech giants to determine if they prevent competition and hurt consumers.

The investigation’s core is the idea that “the Internet is broken”.

“Big Tech must account for its actions. I am proud to join my Republican and Democrat colleagues in efforts to ensure Tech Giants can no longer hide behind complexity and complicity,” said Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry.

Also Read: Airtel Displays Fastest Download Speed, Jio tops 4G Availability

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey added: “It’s important that the internet remains fair and open to everyone. We are participating with a broad coalition of states in an investigation of Facebook’s business practices.”

A bipartisan coalition led by New York attorney general has launched an investigation into Facebook to understand whether it stifled competition and put users at risk.

“The District of Columbia has joined this investigation to ensure Facebook is giving a fair shake to district residents and the American people. No company gets a pass if it throttles competitors and exploits consumers,” said District of Columbia Attorney General Karl A. Racine. (IANS)