Mark Zuckerberg addresses Facebook concerns of Myanmar activists

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckberg has promised to do more to help tackle hate speech in Myanmar after activists accused him ...

Posted: Apr 10, 2018 12:57 PM
Updated: Apr 10, 2018 12:57 PM

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckberg has promised to do more to help tackle hate speech in Myanmar after activists accused him of turning a blind eye.

In a response to an open letter from a group of tech and nonprofit organizations, Zuckerberg said the social media giant will introduce technological improvements to filter hate content, and has hired "dozens more Burmese language" moderators to deal with the issue.

"We now we have a special product team working to better understand the specific local challenges and build the right tools to help keep people there safe," Zuckerberg said.

However, the activists who originally called Zuckerberg out said his response did not "change our core belief that your proposed improvements are nowhere near enough to ensure that Myanmar users are provided with the same standards of care as users in the US or Europe," reiterating the heightened stakes in the Southeast Asian country.

"When things go wrong in Myanmar, the consequences can be really serious -- potentially disastrous," they said in a follow-up statement.

As many as 700,000 Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar's western Rakhine state have been forced from their homes and across the border into neighboring Bangladesh since last summer, following a sustained campaign of violence and abuse, which the UN has called "ethnic cleansing."

Myo Min, a director of Equality Myanmar and a signatory to the letters to Zuckerberg, told CNN Facebook's work to tackle hate speech is "not enough ... we should have more accountability and transparency (from Facebook)."

"At least he's showed interest (in the problems faced here)," he added.

"We really need more collaboration with local civil society organizations. We're the ones who know, can read local language, can monitor, but we need a quick and efficient reporting mechanism (for hate speech)."

Messages caused 'country-wide fear'

Activists in Myanmar said they had found examples of Facebook tools "being used to incite real harm," including a call to arms against Muslims over a fabricated "jihad" planned for September 2017 shared via Facebook Messenger.

"Far from being stopped, (these examples) spread in an unprecedented way, reaching country-wide and causing widespread fear and at least three violent incidents in the process," the authors of the original letter said.

They cited an interview Zuckerberg did with Vox, in which he said Facebook's systems "detected" the hate speech.

However, according to the letter, many of the examples were raised to Facebook by the authors themselves, and represented a "far from systematic" approach to the detection of hate speech.

Calling this "the opposite of effective moderation," the group also chided Facebook for what it said was a lack of proper mechanisms for emergency escalation, a reticence to engage local stakeholders and a lack of transparency.

Zuckerberg said the company is "rolling out improvements to our reporting mechanism in Messenger to make it easier to find, and simpler for people to report conversations," like the false jihad messages.

The activists said his response did not go far enough, and included a list of ten questions for Zuckerberg concerning the number of incidents reported in Myanmar, amount of accounts closed due to violations of standards, and other indicators of hate speech.

'Inadequate response'

The Rohingya refugee crisis has been attributed to the actions of the Myanmar military, which has denied the intentional killing of civilians and insisted its operations primarily target terrorists.

Hate speech and incitements to violence against Rohingya "on social media is rampant, particularly on Facebook," said Marzuki Darusman, chair of a United Nations probe into human rights in Myanmar, adding it largely "goes unchecked."

Yanghee Lee, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, added "ultra-nationalist Buddhists ... are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of hatred against the Rohingya or other ethnic minorities."

Ethnic conflict has plagued Myanmar for centuries, and violence has flared up in Rakhine on numerous occasions between the Buddhist majority and minority Muslims.

Raymond Serrato, a data analyst who has studied Facebook activity around last year's military action in Rakhine, said it would be "superficial" to ignore the pre-existing tension, but added "Facebook has definitely facilitated it."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 33068

Reported Deaths: 2068
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion9524558
Lake3494175
Cass15897
Allen141966
St. Joseph122134
Hendricks114268
Hamilton113292
Elkhart110128
Johnson1092106
Madison58459
Porter50522
Bartholomew49034
Clark47941
LaPorte42022
Tippecanoe3823
Howard37824
Delaware37636
Jackson3721
Shelby36822
Hancock32727
Floyd31739
Boone30535
Morgan27724
Vanderburgh2592
Montgomery23417
White2308
Decatur22431
Clinton2221
Noble20421
Grant19721
Dubois1903
Harrison18921
Henry16910
Greene16824
Monroe16512
Warrick16528
Dearborn16521
Vigo1538
Lawrence15223
Miami1401
Putnam1357
Jennings1294
Orange12422
Scott1203
Ripley1106
Franklin1098
Kosciusko1011
Carroll933
Daviess8416
Steuben812
Marshall801
Newton7610
Wayne756
Fayette747
Wabash742
LaGrange682
Jasper661
Washington511
Jay490
Fulton471
Clay461
Rush452
Randolph453
Jefferson431
Pulaski410
Whitley383
Owen351
Sullivan341
DeKalb331
Brown331
Starke323
Perry280
Wells270
Benton260
Huntington262
Knox250
Tipton241
Crawford230
Blackford222
Parke190
Spencer191
Switzerland190
Fountain182
Posey160
Gibson142
Adams131
Ohio130
Warren121
Vermillion100
Martin90
Union80
Pike60
Unassigned0161

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 115833

Reported Deaths: 5186
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook753063519
Lake7933281
DuPage7460350
Kane6083167
Will5356268
Winnebago209153
McHenry148870
St. Clair105077
Kankakee83644
Kendall75119
Rock Island63923
Champaign5957
Madison54557
Boone42416
DeKalb3704
Sangamon34328
Randolph2674
Jackson25610
McLean21613
Ogle2002
Stephenson1992
Macon19219
Peoria1918
Out of IL1831
Clinton18017
Union1519
Unassigned1490
LaSalle14113
Whiteside13412
Iroquois1314
Coles12313
Warren1130
Jefferson10116
Knox960
Grundy952
Monroe9311
McDonough847
Lee791
Tazewell704
Cass690
Henry670
Williamson602
Marion500
Jasper457
Adams441
Macoupin442
Perry410
Pulaski410
Montgomery391
Vermilion381
Morgan341
Christian334
Jo Daviess320
Livingston322
Douglas260
Fayette203
Ford201
Jersey201
Menard190
Mason180
Washington180
Woodford182
Hancock160
Mercer160
Shelby161
Bureau151
Carroll142
Bond121
Franklin120
Piatt120
Schuyler120
Clark110
Crawford110
Fulton110
Brown100
Cumberland100
Logan100
Moultrie100
Wayne91
Alexander80
Henderson80
Johnson70
Massac70
Saline70
Effingham61
Greene50
Marshall50
De Witt40
Lawrence40
Richland30
Stark30
Clay20
Edwards20
Gallatin20
Hamilton20
Wabash20
White20
Calhoun10
Hardin10
Pike10
Pope10
Putnam10
Edgar00
Terre Haute
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 65°
Robinson
Broken Clouds
63° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 63°
Indianapolis
Broken Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 64°
Rockville
Overcast
62° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 62°
Casey
Scattered Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 64°
Brazil
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 65°
Marshall
Broken Clouds
65° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 65°
Showers Early, Cooler
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

WTHI Events