back to article Facebook quietly admits role in Myanmar killing fields – but fret not, it will do better next time

Late Monday afternoon, about the same time the FBI warned about Russia and other countries using social media to influence the US midterm elections, Facebook quietly released a report showing the company's platform was used to foment violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar. The Rohingya, a minority mostly Muslim ethnic …

  1. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Death, destruction, and hate posts..... situation normal.

    Revenues from advertisers obviously takes priority over people at FB. Everything else, not so much.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Death, destruction, and hate posts..... situation normal.

      I'm a bit worried about making Facebook into a censor. If they really do have close to a monopoly on peoples communication then allowing them to censor according to their standards......

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Death, destruction, and hate posts..... situation normal.

        Well there is a simple answer, although simply squashing the bast***rds will only result in another group f turds springing up.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Death, destruction, and hate posts..... situation normal.

        It's a pretty weak monopoly, though, considering that there are many millions of people (at least in the US) who don't use Facebook and yet are able to communicate without a problem.

        1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

          @JohnFen Re: Death, destruction, and hate posts..... situation normal.

          The trouble is the association of 'internet communication' with Facebook. Sadly that does seem to have become automatic in the last decade.

  2. Palpy

    Needed: prosocial data diode for amplifier

    "...Facebook's role in this crisis has been to act as a hate amplifier and distribution mechanism."

    It's not so much "...give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together" as to amplify peoples' desire to scapegoat and eventually murder other people.

    Yes, Grandma uses Facebook to keep up with the doings of the grandkids 2000 km away. Yes, flashmobs can sing Hallelujah, but they can also gather to lynch members of the out-group du jour.

    So Facebook (and Twitter, Reddit, etc) have tapped into powerful social drives which can easily lead to both good and evil outcomes.

    1. Peter2 Silver badge

      Re: Needed: prosocial data diode for amplifier

      They have, yes.

      It is also noteworthy that most of the current sites reward short ill thought out rants over longer and more considered posts.

      This is particular to these sites: it did not used to happen on forums predating facebook. Of course, this also ignores that people have declining social skills due to reliance on electronic communication and are starting to use websites at a much younger age than was once the case.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Needed: prosocial data diode for amplifier

        It is also noteworthy that most of the current sites reward short ill thought out rants over longer and more considered posts.

        This is particular to these sites: it did not used to happen on forums predating facebook.

        What in the world are you talking about?

        Flame wars, personal attacks, and hate speech were quite common on Usenet and BBS forums. They happen frequently in older forms of web forums, such as the comments sections for blogs.

        Early academic studies of online discourse pointed this out frequently. The famous special issue of SAQ edited by Mark Dery in 1993 on the subject was titled Flame Wars; flaming was already one of the most noted features of online discussions. (Dery subsequently enlarged FW into a book; it remains widely read.) I myself commented on flaming and discursive conflict in my piece in the 1994 "Geography of Cyberspace" issue of Works and Days.

        Your prelapsarian world of courteous online discourse never existed.

        1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

          @Michael Wojcik Re: Needed: prosocial data diode for amplifier

          You sound like a die-hard C programmer. Can I interest you in some of these C++ features you'll wonder how you ever did without?

  3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
    FAIL

    Sartre

    "Hell is other people." - Jean-Paul Sartre

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inciting Hate

    So, no worse than the Daily Mail then ?

  5. Joe Montana

    Myanmar

    "There has been a significant increase in freedom of expression in Myanmar over the past five years" - freedom of expression also includes freedom to express your hatred and other negative opinions. Conversely not being free to express your hatred doesn't change your opinion, it ensures that it remains hidden and doesn't facilitate any discussion or education.

    If you simply suppress someone's views and spray them with one-sided propaganda they will grow to resent the propaganda and their existing views will be reinforced. What's needed is open debate and education so people can be exposed to all sides and learn for themselves.

  6. Joe Montana

    Ethnic cleansing?

    "Following attacks on authorities by a Rohingya militant group last year, the Myanmar military retaliated in violence that the UN has characterized as ethnic cleansing."

    So basically a rohingya militant group (aka terrorists) attacked the authorities, and the result of this is military intervention. Any country in the world would react in the same way, and indeed fights against armed terrorist groups are currently underway in several other countries like syria and iraq.

    "An estimated 25,000 people have been killed in the violence, the UN claims, and 0ver 700,000 people have now fled to neighboring Bangladesh"

    Assuming this is correct, killing 25,000 and allowing 14 times more (700,000) to escape doesn't sound like very successful ethnic cleansing.

    The area in question is now a warzone, with fighting between the military and terrorists with innocent civilians being caught in the middle. That 25,000 figure doesn't just represent innocent people killed by the military, it also represents terrorists, soldiers and innocent victims killed by the terrorists.

    There are always innocent casualties in wars like this, many civilians are getting killed in syria and iraq, and the military forces there are far better trained and equipped than the myanmar military.

    1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Ethnic cleansing?

      In Ruanda, a sophisticated army was not required to kill people. Would you have suggested (as I seem to remember various right wing commentators and the Daily Hate advocating) flattening Ireland?

    2. anonanonanon

      Re: Ethnic cleansing?

      It's almost like you're scolding them. Are you the sort of guy who denies the holocaust by using statistics? There was no holocaust because the germans let too many get away?

      Would you be happy that if in your own country, some random bunch of nutters from one group of people or another planted a bomb, and then that was used to justify killing or hounding anyone who looked like said nutters out of the country?

    3. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      Re: Ethnic cleansing?

      > So basically a rohingya militant group (aka terrorists) attacked the authorities, and the result of this is military intervention. Any country in the world would react in the same way,

      Maybe go have a read of what's actually been happening.

      And then have a think on how you, as a dictator, might also call it a "military intervention" in response to "terrorists" rather than use the term genocide.

      There was an attack by Rohingya terrorists. The response seems to have been to go into villages and execute women and children, along with the men. And not always directly. They've also reportedly been going to non-Rohingya villages and encouraging the people there to go and do the dirty work instead.

      In the first month, they managed to kill at least 730 children under the age of 5. There's also something of a tendency towards rape by the military too.

      This isn't some justifiable security operation with a bit of collateral damage, it's an out and out clearance operation.

      > Assuming this is correct, killing 25,000 and allowing 14 times more (700,000) to escape doesn't sound like very successful ethnic cleansing

      It doesn't need to be successful to be ethnic cleansing, and it doesn't need to be successful to be wrong.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ethnic cleansing?

        There should be an International group appointed for these sorts of things.

        Maybe an all-powerful "International Court"or something that has jurisdiction over ALL countries.

        This proposed "court" would have the backing and support of all the worlds governments to make sure that any rogue countries government, police or military involved in ethnic cleansing, war crimes or other attrocities would be held accountable.

        1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge
          Mushroom

          @AC Re: Ethnic cleansing?

          You. Have. Got. To. Be. Joking.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @AC Ethnic cleansing?

            And like the UN human rights councils are headed by some of the most notorious bad actors on the planet, this court would be headed by Myanmar.

            Not such a great idea now, is it?

      2. Joe Montana

        Re: Ethnic cleansing?

        "Maybe go have a read of what's actually been happening."

        I have read, i've also read what the people in myanmar are saying (ie local media) and most importantly of all i've actually been to myanmar both recently and for significant amounts of time (i have the passport stamps to prove it), and actually know several people who grew up in the affected region of the country.

        What you read about in the international media is extremely biased against myanmar, what you read about in the local media is obviously completely biased in the opposite direction. The actual truth is somewhere in between.

        "There's also something of a tendency towards rape by the military too." - unfortunately this is common, there are accusations against british and american troops carrying out rapes in iraq, vietnam etc too.. Is it any wonder that a third world military with significantly less training or discipline would also do the same thing? Not saying it's right, just putting it in perspective. FYI the terrorists are also carrying out rapes.

        "They've also reportedly been going to non-Rohingya villages and encouraging the people there to go and do the dirty work instead." - these villages don't need any encouragement, the non rohingya villages have been attacked by the terrorist groups and are out for revenge, remember these are third world villages, not well educated westerners. You see the same thing in the middle east where various factions take up arms against each other.

        And then there are false flag operations, economic refugees, and non-rohingya refugees who have fled in the opposite direction (ie towards other cities in myanmar) which you don't hear very much about in the western media.

        So instead of reading propaganda online, why don't you actually go to myanmar and speak to people?

    4. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: Ethnic cleansing?

      “killing 25,000 and allowing 14 times more (700,000) to escape doesn't sound like very successful ethnic cleansing.”

      Ethnic cleansing is not the same as genocide. The purpose of ethnic cleansing is to remove ethnic group X from the territory that you wish to cleanse. The term derives from the Croatian euphemism “cleansing the land”.

      Removing 720,000 people of a certain ethnic group from their land sounds very much like a “successful” ethnic cleansing.

    5. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Ethnic cleansing?

      "Assuming this is correct, killing 25,000 and allowing 14 times more (700,000) to escape doesn't sound like very successful ethnic cleansing."

      "Ethnic cleansing" does not mean "killing everyone", and in practice that isn't usually how it's done. Usually, a ton of people are murdered and the rest are allowed to flee or are expelled.

      The legal definition is "the planned deliberate removal from a specific territory, persons of a particular ethnic group, by force or intimidation, in order to render that area ethnically homogenous."

  7. JohnFen Silver badge

    Doing better

    Given Facebook's track record with most other things, "doing better" isn't really their strong suit.

  8. Cincinnataroo

    I'm regularly surprised that anybody thinks an algorithm censoring our content is a good idea!

    A company executive, an elected "representative"...

    Our technologies give us the chance to filter our own content, if we want. Not some involuntary and often wrong headed enity out there, trying to skew our world view.

  9. Bernard M. Orwell Silver badge

    Maybe its time?

    Maybe its time we took Aung San Suu Kyi's Nobel Peace Prize away?

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