Facebook restricts Myanmar military’s accounts for spreading ‘misinformation’

Social media giant Facebook has announced it has limited the distribution content on Facebook Pages and profiles run by Myanmar’s military claiming it spreads misinformation.

Following a recent coup that led to the detention of elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other officials that started on February 1, Facebook in a statement said they are treating the happenings in the Southeast Asian country as an ‘emergency.’

“Facebook is treating the situation in Myanmar as an emergency. Our Integrity Operations Center has been running around the clock since the coup began. It brings together subject matter experts from across the company, including Myanmar nationals with native language skills, so we can monitor and respond to any threats in real-time,” Facebook said.

Myanmar’s military claims an election won last year by the National League for Democracy (NLD) party and leader Aung San Suu Kyi was fraudulent, invoking a clause in the constitution permitting an armed takeover of the government. World leaders have soundly denounced the coup, and US President Biden’s administration on Thursday also imposed sanctions on military leaders in the country.

Facebook also disclosed it will also ‘significantly’ restrict accounts linked to Myanmar’s military for spreading ‘misinformation’ after a military junta took power from elected officials and staged a coup.

The recent moves of the social media platform would mean that pages and profiles with links to the military will be harder to access, and fewer users will see the content of the posts.

Facebook also said it will delete posts that support the coup or call for violence against protesters after an activist was shot in the head by police this week.

“In line with our global policies on repeat offenders of misinformation, we will also no longer be recommending them to people. Among other military-run accounts, these measures apply to the Tatmadaw Information Team’s Facebook Page and to Tatmadaw spokesperson Brigadier-General Zaw Min Tun’s Facebook account. This same action will be applied to any additional pages that the military controls that repeatedly violate our misinformation policies,” Facebook said.

Added measures for the protection of Facebook users in Myanmar include continuing “to enforce policies on Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior (CIB) to combat influence operations.” Facebook will also be doing close monitoring through a combination of automated and manual detection of inauthentic behavior which includes enforcement actions taken during the past week against accounts connected to our past takedowns associated with the Myanmar military.

“We have also indefinitely suspended the ability for Myanmar government agencies to send content removal requests to Facebook through our normal channels reserved for authorities around the world. Simultaneously, we are protecting content, including political speech, that allows the people of Myanmar to express themselves and to show the world what is transpiring inside their country,” the company added.

On February 4, Myanmar’s military junta blocked Facebook following growing protests and opposition to the coup that grabbed power from elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and allied politicians.

The Southeast Asian country’s military has also begun disrupting access to Facebook as the coup led by General Min Aung Hlaing moves to eradicate opposition and dissent in many parts of the country. However, many Myanmar citizens have continued to use the app using various means as dissent grows against the leaders of the coup.

Meanwhile, the UN also issued a resolution calling on Myanmar’s military leaders to release jailed leader Aung San Suu Kyi and to stop using violence against demonstrators.

The 15-member UN Security Council said in a statement agreed by consensus that they “stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence, and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms and the rule of law.”

The members of the Security Council also emphasized the need for the continued support of the democratic transition in Myanmar. The council stressed the need to uphold democratic institutions and processes, refrain from violence and fully respect human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rule of law. Council members also encouraged the pursuance of dialogue and reconciliation in accordance with the will and interests of the people of Myanmar.