Facebook has closed all remaining accounts linked to the Burmese military, due to the junta’s use of “Murderous violence” against pro-democracy demonstrators, the platform announced on Thursday in a statement. “Events since the coup d’etat of 1er February, including deadly violence, precipitated the need for this ban ”, writes Facebook. Only the pages linked to the Burmese state but considered as “essential public services”, such as the pages of the Ministry of Health, will remain accessible.
All pages related to the army are concerned, on Facebook as well as on Instagram. The social network had already closed several important accounts linked to the Burmese army in recent weeks, including “True News”, the main page managed by the junta’s news service.
Since the coup d’etat of 1er February, which deposed the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, the military used social media to disseminate unproven accusations of electoral fraud, used as justification for the coup. The army has also issued multiple calls for violence against the Rohingya Muslim minority and pro-democracy protesters.
Five people have been killed by security forces during protests over the past three weeks, including a 20-year-old man who died on February 24 in Mandalay, in the center of the country. The junta also cut Internet access in several regions, in an attempt to limit the organization of pro-democracy protests.
For the past five years, Facebook has been strongly criticized for its inaction in the face of hate messages disseminated in Burma, which mainly targeted the Rohingya, the targets of a virulent campaign of violence which has prompted more than 750,000 members of this Muslim minority to flee. the country to neighboring Bangladesh.
Facebook admitted two years ago to having made mistakes in managing its moderation in Burma – press inquiries revealed that only a handful of the firm’s moderators spoke Burmese and pointed to the presence of extensive appeal campaigns to hatred on the social network, particularly popular in Burma.
Since then, the social network claims to have strongly strengthened its procedures. The decision to shut down all military accounts has been broadly welcomed by human rights activists, but some voices, such as whistleblower Christopher Wylie who exposed the Cambridge Analytica scandal, feel that the decision comes too late. “ It only took five years of ethnic cleansing and a military coup for Facebook to ban Burmese army accounts ”, he writes.