Facebook’s ban of Myanmar’s military leaders marks a new step for the leading social network against state “actors” and raises thorny questions on how the company deals with repressive regimes using the platform.
The move against Myanmar’s army chief and other top military brass on Monday which came on the heels of an explosive UN investigation was the first time Facebook has barred members of the military or state actors, the company confirmed.
Facebook’s actions came after repeated complaints that the platform was being used to spread hate and incite violence against the Rohingya.
The UN report, which recommended that military leaders face prosecution for genocide over their crackdown on the Muslim minority, said Facebook had become “a useful instrument” for those seeking to spread hate.
Facebook and other social networks have been under pressure to curb the spread of disinformation, especially when it can be seen as “hate speech” that may incite violence.
Governments themselves can be the sources of such false information.
Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University professor who studies social media, said while the move in Myanmar was “a significant development,” the company “has a lot more work to do.”
She added that Facebook had to “find a balance” between addressing how state entities are using the platform and making sure governments do not block the service.