Politics

UN Warns Facebook To Block Hate Speech In Myanmar Or It Could Be Dragged Into International War Crimes Trials For Genocide

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Kyle Perisic Contributor
  • The UN human rights chief warned Facebook it could be abetting genocide if it doesn’t block hate speech in Myanmar, where Rohingya Muslims face ethnic cleansing.
  • If Facebook doesn’t block the spread of hate speech and misinformation, it could be dragged into international war crimes trials.
  • Facebook has been repeatedly told it needs to do something and Facebook has repeatedly said that it will.

The UN human rights chief urged Facebook Wednesday to censor hate speech in Myanmar, where there’s a risk of genocide, or risk of being dragged in international war crimes trials.

The first Muslim head of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al-Hussein warned the spread of hate speech and misinformation on Facebook could result in the support for genocide of the minority Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, also known as Burma, The Telegraph reported Thursday. He added that Facebook could be considered an accessory to the crimes.

“We felt early on very uncomfortable with what we were seeing in Myanmar, (but) in the early meetings that we had with Facebook, I didn’t think they were taking it seriously,” Zeid Wednesday, who is expected to step down from his position Friday.

“We’ve seen from the jurisprudence of the past that if you’ve enabled, you’ve abetted, you’ve been an accessory,” Zeid added.

While he didn’t accuse Facebook of abetting any crimes, “they have to be sure that they know where they are and what side of the law they are on,” he said.

Facebook banned 18 Facebook accounts, one account on Instagram — which it owns — and 52 Facebook pages on Monday, including Myanmar’s powerful military chief, Min Aung Hlaing, the Associated Press reported.

The accounts were responsible for the spread of misinformation and hate speech, resulting in inflamed ethnic and religious conflict in the country.

As tensions rise to what many have described as the beginning of genocide against the Rohingya, others say it’s already occurring, which the government denies, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported October.

Over 700,000 Rohingya have fled rape and mass murder to Bangladesh, The Telegraph reported.

Facebook has been pressed to act on the spread of misinformation and hate speech in Myanmar several times. Democratic Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy pressed Facebook cofounder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg during the highly publicized hearing in April on the subject.

“You know, six months ago, I asked your general counsel about Facebook’s role as a breeding ground for hate speech against Rohingya refugees. Recently, U.N. investigators blamed Facebook for playing a role in inciting possible genocide in Myanmar. And there has been genocide there,” Leahy told Zuckerberg April 10.

Zuckerberg responded to Leahy saying that “what’s happening in Myanmar is a terrible tragedy, and we need to do more.”

The social media giant clarified its speech policies July 18, saying it would remove content that could lead to violence, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported.

“We have identified that there is a type of misinformation that is shared in certain countries that can incite underlying tensions and lead to physical harm offline,” Facebook product manager Tessa Lyons told The New York Times. “We have a broader responsibility to not just reduce that type of content but remove it.”

Zuckerberg has previously told political leaders that Facebook will ban hate speech on the platform. (RELATED: Conservatives At Facebook Form ‘FB’ers For Political Diversity’ To Combat Company’s Ideological Echochamber)

“Hate speech has no place on Facebook and in our community,” he said at a town hall in Berlin in Feb. 2106. “Until recently in Germany I don’t think we were doing a good enough job, and I think we will continue needing to do a better and better job.”

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