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Anti-Rohingya Hate Speech on Facebook: Content and Network Analysis

March 27th, 2024  •  Author:   Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar  •  2 minute read
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Executive Summary

  1. The United Nations Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (“IIMM” or “Mechanism”) was established by the UN Human Rights Council resolution 39/2 with the mandate to collect and analyse evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011 and to prepare files to share with national, regional or international courts that may have jurisdiction to prosecute such cases.
  2. In furtherance of its mandate, the Mechanism has collected large quantities of evidence concerning hate speech against the Rohingya population. After studying that material, the Mechanism has prepared the present Analytical Report. The report presents the findings of a large-scale project carried out by the Mechanism analysing the role of the Myanmar military in the spread of hate speech directed against the Rohingya.
  3. The project examined material posted on 43 Facebook Pages between July and December 2017 – encompassing the period of the military’s clearance operations and the 55 days that immediately preceded the ARSA attacks of 25 August 2017. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, had removed each of these Pages in August 2018. Six of the Pages had been removed because they were considered to have engaged in human rights violations and the remaining 37 Pages had been removed for misrepresenting who they were and engaging in what Meta terms “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.
  4. The Mechanism’s review found thousands of posts on these Pages during the period reviewed that fell within its definition of hate speech. The posts promoted various narratives that the Rohingya were a threat to Myanmar’s other ethnic groups and to Buddhism.
  5. The Mechanism’s analysis further found that these 43 Pages were part of a single network with clear ties to the Myanmar military. Often, the Pages share creators, administrators and/or editors. The report explains how the Mechanism found clear indications that the various Pages were often posting material using the same IP addresses. The same material was often posted on multiple Pages in this network, sometimes within minutes. The Mechanism’s review of these Pages establishes that the Myanmar military was actively promoting hate speech against the Rohingya at the time of the 2017 clearance operations.

Download full report.