Facebook Inc. has admitted it did not do enough to prevent the incitement of ethnic violence in Myanmar nearly two years ago, but it still has not taken enough steps to stop the spread of hate on its platform, a United Nations investigator says.
“Facebook’s actions can only be described as minimal. It was as though the approach was apologize after the fact rather than try to prevent it in the first place.”
“I think there has been meaningful and significant change from Facebook, but it’s not nearly sufficient,” Christopher Sidoti, an Australian human-rights attorney and U.N. investigator, told Gizmodo in an interview published Wednesday.
The social-media giant, which in infrastructure-challenged Myanmar is synonymous with the internet at large, was cited by the U.N. last year for failing to heed warnings and prevent messages spreading hate and inciting violence against that country’s Rohingya Muslim minority, leading to thousands of deaths and around 700,000 Rohingya refugees who fled the country.
“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,” Facebook’s product policy manager, Alex Warofka, wrote in a blog post in November.
In February, Facebook
banned four groups in Myanmar designated as “dangerous organizations” that it said were inflaming ethnic tensions.
Sidoti told Gizmodo that Facebook “still has a very long way to go.”
“There is still the denigration the Rohingya specifically and minorities in general,” he said. “I’m not seeing in the last month material that strongly incites violence like we did see in 2017, but general racist postings are still present.”
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