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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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Facebook, myanmar
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.

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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.

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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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Social Networking Giant Facebook Allows Ads to Promote Anti-vaccine Content

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.”

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Facebook, photos
This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

Facebook has enabled advertisers to promote anti-vaccine content to nearly nine lakh people interested in “vaccine controversies”, the media reported.

The social networking giant is already facing pressure to stop promoting anti-vaccine propaganda to users amid global concern over vaccine hesitancy and a measles outbreak in the Pacific northwest.

Advertisers pay to reach groups of people on Facebook which include those interested in “Dr Tenpenny on Vaccines”, which refers to anti-vaccine activist Sherri Tenpenny, and “informed consent”, which is language that anti-vaccine propagandists have adopted to fight vaccination laws, The Guardian reported on Friday.

On Thursday, California congressman Adam Schiff, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, in letters to Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai, urged them to take more responsibility for health-related misinformation on their platforms.

“The algorithms which power these services are not designed to distinguish quality information from misinformation or misleading information, and the consequences of that are particularly troubling for public health issues,” Schiff wrote.

“I am concerned by the report that Facebook accepts paid advertising that contains deliberate misinformation about vaccines,” he added.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

In 2017, ProPublica, a US-based non-profit organisation, revealed that the platform included targeting categories for people interested in a number of anti-Semitic phrases, such as “How to burn Jews” or “Jew hater”.

While the anti-Semitic categories found by ProPublica were automatically generated and were too small to run effective ad campaigns by themselves, the “vaccine controversies” category contains nearly nine lakh people, and “informed consent” from about 340,000. The Tenpenny category only includes 720 people, which is too few to run a campaign.

Facebook declined to comment on the ad targeting categories, but said it was looking into the issue, The Guardian reported.

Also Read- Samsung Competes Apple, Launches Stores and Expand Retail Footprints in US

“We’ve taken steps to reduce the distribution of health-related misinformation on Facebook, but we know we have more to do,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement responding to Schiff’s letter.

“We’re currently working on additional changes that we’ll be announcing soon.” (IANS)