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Facebook Shares Rise Despite Myanmar Controversy


One of two Muslims permitted to run for the party that is governing Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s general election on Sunday, Sithu Maung, worries fake news on Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) could harm his chances.

In just a torrent of racist abuse and misinformation posted he plans to shut Buddhist monastic schools and to advocate for the teaching of Arabic about him ahead of the polls are false claims.

“They use race and religion to strike me,” the 33-year-old told Reuters in the industry capital of Yangon, where he is standing for the seat won by the governing party in the election that is last.

“today people use social media inside your … when they see false information 10 times it becomes the facts.”

Social media marketing companies face a challenge that is global end disinformation around elections, such as the 2020 U.S. vote. In Myanmar, the stakes for Twitter are particularly high after previous accusations it helped incite genocide.

Half Myanmar’s 53 million people use Twitter, which for several is synonymous utilizing the internet.

Facebook professionals told Reuters hate speech in Myanmar was “near historic lows” after it dedicated to resources from synthetic intelligence language and picture detection to measures to slow the spread of viral content.

But culture that is civil have found dozens of networks of accounts, pages, and groups distributing ethnically and religiously charged falsehoods which they worry may lead to strife and undermine the 2nd election since the end of hardline military rule last year. One of two Muslims permitted to run for the party.

Reuters individually found a lot more than two dozen pages which are such reports.

“There’s a short-term instant concern of all of the this disinformation and hate speech real-world that is fueling,” said Jes Kaliebe Petersen, CEO of tech hub Phandeeyar, part of the Myanmar Tech Accountability system (MTAN), a civil society team coordinating efforts to reduce risks posed by social networking.

Harmful content, he said, is “spreading like wildfire”.

The government of frontrunner Aung San Suu Kyi, her National that is ruling League Democracy (NLD) as well as the election commission failed to react to requests for remark.

Even though NLD is widely expected to win the election effortlessly, as it did in 2015, there is precedent for social media hate speech leading to physical violence in Myanmar.

Anti-Muslim rumors on Twitter were widely regarded as helping to trigger riots that are life-threatening 2012 and 2014. In 2017, violent speech on Twitter had been blamed for supporting an army crackdown on Rohingya Muslims that drove more than 730,000 to flee Myanmar.

But Rafael Frankel, Facebook’s manager of general public policy for Southeast Asia, told Reuters that in front of the election: “that which we have seen up to now is typical and absolutely nothing in virtually any genuine way out associated with the ordinary from what we would see in other areas of the world when an election is happening.”

Even before campaigning got underway, Twitter removed 280,000 items in Myanmar for hate speech into the second quarter of 2020, up from 51,000 in the quarter that is first.

Meanwhile, it’s verifying reports for many politicians – including Sithu Maung – and providing them with a line that is direct complaints.

Facebook also stated it had removed hundreds of makes up about “coordinated behavior that is inauthentic including about 70 it traced to members of Myanmar’s armed forces on Oct. 8.

On the list of blocked army-linked reports were two that had attacked Sithu Maung with cultural and slurs which are religious.

The pages additionally included and pro-army some newly created pages that replicated others that had only been already obstructed by Facebook.


Billy Houghton

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