United Nations investigator blames Facebook for spreading hate against Rohingyas

Rohingya Muslim refugees children queue for aid suplies at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar

Rohingya Muslim refugees children queue for aid suplies at the Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox's Bazar

A U.N. fact-finding mission has highlighted the role of social media networks, and Facebook in particular, in fueling hate speech against the Rohingya minority in Myanmar, telling the U.N. Human Rights Council this week that "incitement to violence" is "rampant" and "unchecked".

Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar said that social media, particularly Facebook, had played a "determining role" in Myanmar.

In an emailed statement, Facebook spokesperson Ruchika Budhraja said in part: "There is no place for hate speech or content that promotes violence on Facebook, and we work hard to keep it off our platform".

The government of Sri Lanka also sought to block access to Facebook and two other of its social services, WhatsApp and Instagram, in an attempt to stem mob violence against its local Muslim minority - citing inflammatory social media posts, according to TechCrunch.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar for Bangladesh amid a crackdown by Myanmar security forces that began last August after a string of insurgent attacks.

In the past, Al Jazeera had highlighted how Facebook was used to amplify hate speech against Rohingya Muslims, while a year ago, Daily Beast reported that activists documenting the alleged ethnic cleansing in Myanmar were silenced by Facebook, as their postings were removed and their accounts suspended.

It suspends and sometimes removes users who promote hate speech on the platform.

Kept out of Rakhine, Darusman's team went to Bangladesh, Thailand, and Malaysia to interview more than 600 refugees.

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Calls have been mounting for the creation of a UN-backed investigation to prepare criminal indictments over atrocities committed in Myanmar.

Two reports to the United Nations have found that Myanmar has carried out extreme human rights violations against the Rohingya people, abuses that are most likely crimes under worldwide law.

The council was told elderly, people with disabilities, and young children have been burned alive in their homes and the military were involved in gang rapes. "Others were hacked to death".

While Lee expressed hope that de-facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi would eventually put a stop to the campaign of violence, she also said the government leadership who did not intervene must also be held accountable.

UN Myanmar investigator Yanghee Lee credited Facebook with helping the predominately Buddhist country of Myanmar to communicate.

Facebook has previously discussed the problems it has faced trying to tackle hate speech in the country.

"We've had trouble enforcing this policy correctly recently, mainly due to the challenges of understanding the context; after further examination, we've been able to get it right".

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