Aung San Suu Kyi, the wildly popular opposition leader held by the military under house arrest for some 15 years, was barred from participating. He served more than eight years of his 14-year sentence, passing the time by speaking to spiders and other insects that crawled through his cell. “That is an open question. Forgot account? Ad Choices, How Facebook’s Rise Fueled Chaos and Confusion in Myanmar. This includes hiring additional Burmese speakers to review content, improving reporting tools, and “developing local and relevant content” to educate users on how to best use the platform. The scale of this problem was significant and it was already apparent.". “I named them individually and they all become my friends,” he would say later. Madden says he met again with Facebook officials in January 2017 as did two other people familiar with the gathering, which took place in Menlo Park. But among Myanmar observers and experts, there are already concerns about the role Facebook could play in the country’s 2020 elections. Garlick also explained how content was reviewed after it was flagged by users who found it to be offensive, though it was unclear how many people fluent in Burmese language were doing this work. “We’ve had trouble enforcing this policy correctly recently, mainly due to the challenges of understanding the context; after further examination, we’ve been able to get it right. We stop those messages from going through,” he said. The continued frustrations faced by civil society groups, tech organizations, and those at the receiving end of harassment on Facebook burst into public view this spring in the wake of an incident involving the detection and removal of yet more disinformation. A parliamentary election in 2010 was widely criticized as far from free and fair but an important step for the military’s carefully choreographed transition to quasi-civilian rule. There was also mounting frustration over Facebook’s stubborn resistance to sharing information with the civil society groups they relied so heavily on, like the number of people working on Burmese language content monitoring. In 2013 an official from Human Rights Watch was largely dismissive that Facebook could play a major role in the spread of hate speech. “They started to panic and they did not know what to do,” says Tun, who left Deloitte last year. Now, that threat went straight through your detection systems, it spread very quickly, and then it took attempt after attempt after attempt, and the involvement of civil society groups, to get you to remove it. But we expect this to be a long-term challenge,” Richard Allen, a Facebook vice president of public policy wrote in a post on the company’s website. Zuckerberg later apologized by email for “not being sufficiently clear” about the role that civil society groups play in monitoring content, according to a copy of the email published by the New York Times. Business for Social Responsibility, a California based nonprofit organization, will soon begin a human rights impact assessment of Facebook’s role in Myanmar that will be made public when it is completed. The arrival of Facebook provided a platform for these rumors to spread at an alarming rate. (Five people, including a woman who admitted she was paid to make the false rape claim, were eventually sentenced to 21 years in prison for their roles in starting the riots.). Many of the posts, he says, compared Muslims to dogs or other animals. One message warned Buddhist groups about an imminent attack by Muslims on September 11. The militant group attacked police posts in October 2016 and again in August 2017, sparking the massive campaign against the Rohingya that has driven hundreds of thousands to neighboring Bangladesh. Zaw Htay, who now serves at the spokesman for Aung San Suu Kyi's government, confirmed the phone call took place. Meanwhile, the Myanmar government and military have been among the most adept and sophisticated users of Facebook, using the platform to put out their own narrative of the Rohingya crisis. Myanmar News.Net is a frequented site for those seeking news about Myanmar, which is also known as Burma. The participants included representatives from Google, the Asia Foundation, and the government, but most in the audience had come to hear—and demand answers—from Mia Garlick. News. The population will be more connected than it was five years prior. While the project gained considerable media attention, some critics said it still failed to address the underlying issues on Facebook. Facebook Film Describes Efforts to Curb "Fake News". Garlick, Facebook’s director of policy for the Asia-Pacific region, whose remit included Myanmar, told the audience that in response to the violence the company planned to speed up translation of the sites’ user guidelines and code of conduct into Burmese. In a lengthy presentation to company officials, he said Facebook risked being a platform used to foment widespread violence, akin to the way radio broadcasts were used to incite killings during the Rwandan genocide. Under that regime, internet connectivity was severely limited and frustratingly slow. In an interview, Aung Naing Soe says he was approached by a member of Special Branch, a notorious intelligence unit of the Myanmar Police Force, who questioned him about the false accusation of being a member of ARSA, which, in the time it was on Facebook, was widely shared including by a former member of parliament. Thein Sein was sworn in as president of Myanmar in March 2011 for a five-year term. During an interview with the website Vox in early April, Zuckerberg claimed the the company had found chain letters that were widely shared across the country on Facebook messenger starting in early September. A person with knowledge of Facebook’s Myanmar operations was decidedly more direct than Allen, calling the roll out of the initiative “pretty fucking stupid.”, Misleading Facebook posts continue to trigger confusion, threats of violence, and government overreach in Myanmar. AFP. One … YANGON, Myanmar – In April, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told U.S. senators that the social media site was hiring dozens more Burmese speakers to review hate speech posted in Myanmar. Zaw Htay, the government spokesman, has used the platform on numerous occasions to share debunked photos purporting to show Rohingya burning their own homes and derided claims of sexual violence by soldiers as “fake rape.” In the past, he often used a Facebook page with the pseudonym “Hmuu Zaw.”. Consider the case of journalist and translator Aung Naing Soe, who in November 2016 was targeted online after users began circulating a picture they claimed showed him standing with members of the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army. To critics of the social media company, the early response to the Mandalay riots were harbingers of the difficulties it would face in Myanmar in the coming years—difficulties that persist to this day: A slow response time to posts violating Facebook’s standards, a barebones staff without the capacity to handle hate speech or understand Myanmar’s cultural nuances, an over-reliance on a small collection of local civil society groups to alert the company to possibly dangerous posts spreading on the platform. Many among the crowd had seen the Facebook post, which was widely shared including by a Mandalay-based ultra-nationalist monk named Wirathu, who has a massive following across the country. He pointed to pamphlets distributed by monks and ultra-nationalist organizations in rural areas prior to the 2012 violence in Rakhine as a more pernicious vehicle for spreading disinformation. For the next two months, whenever he travelled outside of Yangon, he had to inform the officer where he was going, he says. His term ended in March 2016. Today, four years since the riots, Facebook’s role in society is again under intense scrutiny, both in Myanmar and around the world. While the print-outs of the posts used by Senator Leahy were blurred to protect his identity the fact that it was Aung Naing Soe was hardly a secret. Some of the Facebook pages that the social network pulled down included the Myanmar Media Watch, Myanmar Muslim News and the Ethnic Regional News. Civil society groups were caught off guard and angered by Zuckerberg’s characterization that Facebook’s systems had detected the messages, which differed greatly from theirs. Facebook launches a campaign to highlight the company’s programs to tackle the proliferation of misinformation online head-on. One of Thein Sein’s most significant accomplishments was the liberalization of the country’s closed telecommunications sector, which had long been dominated by a state-owned monopoly. Facebook is showing information to help you better understand the purpose of a Page. Soon, a decision was made by the President’s Office to temporarily block access to Facebook in Mandalay, Zaw Htay says. News. Facebook’s rise in popularity in Myanmar came at a time of tremendous political and societal change in the Southeast Asian nation which fueled and enabled the platform’s growth. Wired may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. When Telenor and Ooredoo launched operations in 2014, people queued for hours for SIM cards that cost around a dollar. See more of Mizzima - Myanmar News - English Edition on Facebook. Land confiscation and human rights violations remained pervasive. (UPDATE, July 19, 2018: Facebook announced on July 18 that it would expand its efforts to remove material that could incite violence. He has spoken openly to the media about his experience and was identified widely on social media. This was clear well before 2017.”, It was not just domestic groups who were raising concerns. “That’s not 20/20 hindsight. 14,990,931 people follow this . Garlick acknowledges that the company has been “too slow,” to respond to issues raised by civil society groups. The WIRED conversation illuminates how technology is changing every aspect of our lives—from culture to business, science to design. Rioters torched cars and ransacked shops. Callan returned to the company’s Menlo Park, California, headquarters in early March 2014, after follow-up meetings, with an official from a Myanmar tech civil society organization to again raise the issues with the company and show Facebook “how serious it [hate speech and disinformation] was,” Callan says. ABOUT MIZZIMA - MYANMAR NEWS - ENGLISH EDITION. “Myanmar is a country run by rumors, where people fill in the blanks,” says Derek Mitchell, who served as US Ambassador to Myanmar from 2012 to 2016. About See All. While well intentioned, the process showed a profound lack of familiarity with the Burmese language and the context of language use. Related Articles. He has become an outspoken advocate for media freedom, even joking about his stint in jail. Forgotten account? At the same time, Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg are under global pressure for mishandling users’ data and the part the company played in influencing elections, particularly in the the United States. There were a few things done in late 2014 and 2015 and there was some effort made to try to understand the issues, but it wasn’t a fraction of what was needed,” says David Madden, a gregarious Australian who in 2014 founded Phandeeyar, a tech-hub in Yangon, the country’s largest city, that helped Facebook launch its Burmese language community standards. There is deep skepticism that the current attention will push Facebook to meaningfully address the problems in Myanmar. "When the media spotlight has been on there has been talk of changes, but after it passes are we actually going to see significant action?” Madden asks. Other posts targeted his religion and work as a journalist. While the positive developments in Myanmar under Thein Sein were noteworthy, tremendous challenges remained. The messages, the groups say, lead to at least three violent incidents, including the attempted torching of an Islamic school and the ransacking of shops and houses belonging to Muslims in a town in central Myanmar. 13 December 2020. “A small collection of civil society groups is not going to solve this problem,” says Madden, who now serves as Phandeeyar’s president. Mobile penetration leapt to 56 percent by 2015, according to a Deloitte report, with many Burmese accessing the internet for the first time on phones. The decision was the right one, he says, because it put a stop to the clashes. The historical record is not encouraging.". Aung San Suu Kyi, who is barred by the constitution from holding the presidency, serves as the country’s de facto leader with the title of State Counsellor. See more of Myanmar News Hub on Facebook. He eventually fell asleep. It is the essential source of information and ideas that make sense of a world in constant transformation. Building A3, Wing B, Star City, … 6,150,704 likes. The Burmese language community standards promised by Garlick, however, would not launch until September 2015, 14 months after she spoke in Yangon. In Zuckerberg’s retelling of events, he got a call on a Saturday morning that there were messages stoking violence spreading through Facebook Messenger. Today, four years since the riots, Facebook’s role in society is again under intense scrutiny, both in Myanmar and around the world. Hospitals, Tam calls on provinces to impose tougher rules now, Woman behind ‘Zombie Angelina Jolie’ sentenced to 10 years in Iranian prison. UPDATE: This article has been revised to include Facebook's announcement that it will expand its efforts to remove material that could incite violence. On the line was Zaw Htay, a senior official in the office of President Thein Sein, a retired general who until a few years earlier had served as the fourth most powerful figure in the junta and a loyal comrade to dictator Than Shwe. The state-run telecom provider, Myanma Posts and Telecommunications, partnered with two Japanese firms the same year, further increasing competition and connectivity. This emergency escalation system, which still operates in largely the same manner, relies on a small group of individuals finding potentially dangerous posts, contacting Facebook officials, often times Garlick, who then expedite the referral of the content to a moderation team for review and potential removal. “We have been working over the years to sort of increase our resourcing and the work that we can do to try to reduce misuse and abuse of our platform and to try to drive the benefit that connectivity can have within the country,” she says. Media/News Company. or. The River Media Group Co., Ltd is responsible for this Page. The company, however, has failed to provide details about these monitors. Monks and protesters in Yangon, Myanmar, shout during a March 2015 march to denounce foreign criticism of the country's treatment of stateless Rohingya Muslims. See more of One News Myanmar on Facebook. Not that the increased government scrutiny deterred Aung Naing Soe from pursuing his work as a journalist. Zaw Htay did not respond to requests for comment about his controversial posts. 76,957 visits. Our Story. Predictably, this has all had a huge impact on the distribution of information. Ambitious connectivity targets included in the license agreements by the government ensured that the country’s internet use would skyrocket in coming years. ), "From at least that Mandalay incident, Facebook knew. The campaign in Myanmar looked similar to online influence campaigns from Russia, said Myat Thu, a researcher who studies false news and propaganda on Facebook. Community See All. 976,264 people like this. 1,951,786 people follow this . He said that no representative from the company had been in touch with him regarding the incident. “People gave [Facebook] a lot of credit for that, but it seemed to be the smallest gesture to be made,” says a former US tech company official who worked extensively in Myanmar. There is a great insecurity and fear among people in Myanmar that unseen powers are working in the shadows to control the levers of power, Mitchell says. Page Transparency See More. The fear of web suppression was not unfounded. Not Now. See more of Myanmar News on Facebook. The riots wouldn’t have happened without Facebook. In February, the company banned Wirathu, the radical monk who helped instigate the Mandalay riots. The Irrawaddy - Burmese Edition. Create New Account. “It is clear they don’t know about the ethnic and social politics in the countries” that they operate in. Log In. The the other warned of violence from Buddhist nationalists toward Muslims on the same date. Community See All. By analyzing the Facebook accounts of 100 monks, politicians, activists, government officials, and laypeople, the group found what it described as a “campaign of hate speech that actively dehumanizes Muslims.”. And even now, nearly four years later, Facebook will not reveal exactly how many Burmese speakers are evaluating content that has been flagged as possibly violating its standards. The digital transformation was poised to accelerate that year, when the government granted licenses to two foreign telecoms providers—Norway’s Telenor and and Qatar’s Ooredoo—ending the state monopoly. Why couldn't it be removed within 24 hours?”. Myanmar had been ruled since 1962 by successive military regimes that drove the country into political isolation, crippled the economy, oppressed ethnic minorities, and repeatedly put down popular uprisings with deadly force. Not Now. Conflicts between the still-powerful military and a number of ethnic armed groups, some of whom had been battling for greater autonomy for decades, continued or intensified. “He was quite worried.” Facebook does not maintain an office in Myanmar, and there was, according to Tun, confusion over how to reach officials at the company. A firefighter sprays a smoldering building in the wake of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims that left at least 20 people dead in a the central Myanmar town of Meikhtila in 2013. A panel discussion had been hastily arranged after the riots with the help of Tun, Zaw Htay, and others. Members of her party, the National League for Democracy, boycotted the vote, in which the majority of seats were won by a military backed party. The service, which was never adopted by Telenor or Oooredoo, was quietly shuttered in Myanmar due to government regulation changes the following year. 2.8M likes. Our Story. Tun’s attempts to contact Facebook officials in the United States dragged into the night but were unsuccessful. Contact One News Myanmar on Messenger. The company will say that is has more than 7,500 content reviewers working in over 50 languages. Facebook is showing information to help you better understand the purpose of a Page. About See All. About Us. In a recent briefing in Washington, DC, one longtime Myanmar expert described the adoption of Facebook that followed this sudden uptick in connectivity as the fastest in the world. Album. A list of languages that the content reviewers do work in was not available, the spokeswoman said. Zuckerberg’s admission that Facebook needed to improve came too late for some critics who said he failed to adequately take responsibility for what has been a long-term issue. If Facebook did not see the pages, it is because they “didn’t know where to look,” he says. Chris Tun, the head of Deloitte’s Myanmar operations and a longtime member of the country’s tech community, received a frantic phone call. Mizzima provides timely news, features and analysis on Myanmar. Sonny Swe, the founder of the independent Myanmar Times newspaper who was jailed by the junta, says he was hit by a “digital tsunami” when he was released from prison during an amnesty in April 2013. Create New Account. Myanmar was a small but unique market for the company, and Facebook has taken a multi-faceted approach in recent years to better serve users, Garlick says. The accusations against him, originally reported on a blog, exploded when they made its way to Facebook—by then, synonymous with the internet in Myanmar. (The last of the sanctions were lifted by the fall of 2016, though one former general has been since been sanctioned for his alleged role in the violence against the Rohingya.). In recent months, Facebook has taken some important steps and has acknowledged that the company can do more. Join Facebook to connect with Myanmar News and others you may know. Log In. He told Congress in written testimony that he is "responsible for" not preventing the social media platform from being used for harm, including fake news, foreign interference in elections, and hate speech. Yangon, Myanmar +95 9 44900 2083. On July 20, 2014, a little more than two weeks after the unrest, members of Myanmar’s budding tech scene gathered in a conference room at MICT Park, a badly dated office complex built in Yangon by the junta in a largely unsuccessful attempt to advance the country’s tech prowess. The volume of hate speech required serious product changes. ABOUT MIZZIMA - NEWS IN BURMESE. Zuckerberg responded that what was happening in Myanmar was a “terrible tragedy, and we need to do more,” before Leahy tersely interjected, “We all agree with that.” Zuckerberg then laid out his three fixes for the company’s Myanmar operations. The teashop’s Muslim owner had been accused, falsely, of raping a female Buddhist employee. That year, a collection of civil society groups also began working with Facebook to flag dangerous posts and misinformation on the platform, hoping to speed up the removal time for content that could fuel violence, according to three people involved in the effort who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the work. All rights reserved. (Disclosure: Aung Naing Soe was my translator for an article I wrote, which was published by the NewYorker.com in April. The Myanmar public was, “in for the ride of your life right now,” he added in the speech that was a gleeful take on the positives Myanmar would reap from its technological and telecoms liberation. “Now, in that case, our systems detect that that’s going on. “All internet companies are like this to some degree, but especially Facebook because it is so leanly staffed on the government relations side. “The good part of being arrested is this problem is officially solved,” he says with a laugh. In early 2015, in collaboration with local tech civil society groups, Facebook made a set of digital stickers available on the messenger platform. The country’s internet penetration was less than 1 percent in 2011 and there were just 1.3 million mobile subscribers, according to the International Telecommunication Union, a United Nations’ agency. Community See all. Vermont’s Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy raised the case during Zuckerberg’s testimony in April: One post aimed at Aung Naing Soe, he said, “calls for the death of a Muslim journalist. Madden, the tech hub founder, flew to California in May 2015 to speak to Facebook executives about Myanmar’s massive growth in online users and the rise of Buddhist nationalism, he also delivered a stark message to Facebook. or. facebook myanmar propaganda videos and latest news articles; GlobalNews.ca your source for the latest news on facebook myanmar propaganda . Myanmar came up in the hearings too. Kumudra. Last month, a large delegation of Facebook officials made a high-profile trip to Myanmar. 14,410 people follow this. Garlick declined to comment on the group’s work citing security concerns. In April, Zuckerberg testified before Congress over two days on a myriad of problems within his company, from Russian agents using the platform to influence the US elections to a lack of data protections. The stickers were part of the broader “ Panzagar” campaign, “flower speech” in English, launched by activists, including former political prisoners, to counter hate speech and promote online inclusion. “I think they were more excited about the connectivity opportunity because so many people were using it, rather than the core issues.” Hate speech seemed like a “low priority” for Facebook at the time, she says. This skepticism about the risks of Facebook was rooted in part in a fear that the government or military would use hate speech as an excuse to censor or block certain websites that it did not agree with. Pyi Myanmar News Journal is the oldest and top Myanmar news journal published weekly since 1996. See more. 1,507,683 people follow this. 139A/ 171A, Gate No-1, May Yu Housing Compound, Corner of May Yu Street & Lower Pazundaung Road, Botahtaung Tsp. That year, the country was enraptured by a visit from President Barack Obama, the first sitting US President to visit Myanmar. “Police have an official record that I’m not part of the group.”, Civil society groups and researchers say that Aung Naing Soe’s experience—particularly the vehemence of attacks against him on Facebook—was not unique. Asked if the company had reviewers proficient in the other languages besides Burmese that are used widely in Myanmar, a spokeswoman said only that when content is reported that is not in one of the languages covered by the company, Facebook works with people familiar with the language to determine if the content violates standards. Create New Account. A spokeswoman for Facebook said the company currently has no plans to open an office in the country and is capable of working around the clock by having teams working on Myanmar located in different time zones. There are now an estimated 18 million people who use Facebook in Myanmar, according to the company. Among officials whose Facebook data is being sought were Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of Myanmar's armed forces. Lead by Simon Milner, Vice President of Public Policy for Asia-Pacific, the group met with the Ministry of Information, which suggested the company open an office in Myanmar, according to a state-media report on the meeting. 37,924 people like this. Media/News Company. His son helped him set up a Facebook page days after he was freed in the back of the newspaper’s aging offices. C4ADS, a Washington-based nonprofit that has worked with firms like data company Palantir, released an exhaustive report detailing hate speech trends and its facilitators in February 2016. On the the evening of July 2, 2014 a swelling mob of hundreds of angry residents gathered around the Sun Teashop filling the streets in the commercial hub of Mandalay, Myanmar’s second-largest city. or. He was arrested in late October 2017 along with two foreign journalists working for Turkey’s state broadcaster for flying a drone near parliament on a reporting trip. 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