The United Nations has released an investigative report that calls for Myanmar officials to face charges of genocide due to the results of their campaign against Rohingya.
Investigators further called for the U.N. Security Council to impose an arms embargo on Myanmar and subject the offending officials to targeted sanctions, Reuters reported.
The investigation also placed some of the blame on a surprising culprit: hate speech on social media.
The report cites social media companies as a catalyst for crime among locals.
Facebook is specifically noted as being problematic due in part to it having been the nation’s most prevalent social media platform, despite the company having no employees in the country.
“The role of social media is significant,” the report said. “Facebook has been a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate, in a context where for most users Facebook is the Internet. …
“The Mission regrets that Facebook is unable to provide country-specific data about the spread of hate speech on its platform, which is imperative to assess the adequacy of its response.”
While Facebook’s hate speech standards are strict enough to have warranted heated disputes in the past, the lack of a physical presence in the country has allowed what the U.N. considers to be an unacceptable amount of hatred to be conveyed over the platform.
The U.N. organized a panel last year to interview victims and witnesses of the genocide who have fled to Bangladesh and other countries. The panel interviewed 875 individuals in all and analysed the available documents, videos and photographs.
The members of that panel accused Facebook in March of allowing the platform to be used for facilitating organized violence.
The investigative report reprimanded the company, saying it should have responded more quickly.
“Although improved in recent months, Facebook’s response has been slow and ineffective. The extent to which Facebook posts and messages have led to real-world discrimination and violence must be independently and thoroughly examined,” the report said.
Facebook responded on Monday, saying in a news release that it would ban the accounts of 20 Myanmar officials and organizations that “committed or enabled serious human rights abuses.”
The accounts removed included 18 Facebook accounts, one Instagram account and 52 Facebook pages, according to the statement.
“The ethnic violence in Myanmar has been truly horrific,” Facebook said. “Earlier this month, we shared an update on the steps we’re taking to prevent the spread of hate and misinformation on Facebook. While we were too slow to act, we’re now making progress — with better technology to identify hate speech, improved reporting tools, and more people to review content.”
A Reuters investigation published earlier this month found more than 1,000 examples of “posts, comments and pornographic images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook.”
Many of the offensive comments centered around the assumption that the Myanmar people were in danger due to possible terrorists in their midst.
However, the U.N. report found that the military action was “grossly disproportionate to actual security threats.”
“Our findings are grim,” panel chairman Marzuki Darusman said at a news conference Monday, according to Reuters. “We believe that establishing the facts is the first stepping stone towards change.”
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