Pervasive Hate Speech and the Role of Facebook in Myanmar
Myanmar is scheduled to hold its elections on 8 November 2020. The run-up to the elections has been characterised by the continued exclusion of the Rohingya. The country’s 1982 Citizenship Law, which deprived the Rohingya of their citizenship, has been used to deprive them of the right to participate in these elections.
In the year leading up to the elections, civil society in Myanmar also reported an increase in the use of hate speech and dangerous speech targeting the Rohingya, Muslims and other ethnic communities, particularly on Facebook. Facebook is reported to have more than 22 million users in Myanmar, which account for half of the country’s population. The Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar report in 2018 referred to Facebook as a ‘powerful platform’ for hate speech, concluding that it had been used by the military to propagate hate speech and incitement to violence against minority groups. The report further noted that Facebook had been slow and ineffective in addressing these cases.
This briefing paper is a synthesis of FORUM-ASIA’s documentation, conducted in collaboration with its partner Athan in Myanmar, on various cases of hate speech on Facebook that showed that, despite efforts from Facebook, hate speech remains rampant and unaddressed in Myanmar.