The Rohingyas in Myanmar

Social Networking is a platform made and used by humans to interact and help one another. But are we making a better use of this social platform is a question to be discussed? In today’s world even if people don’t possess common sense they do have access to Social Networking. While one aspect of this tool involves help and aid the other aspect is negative which includes fake posts, posts with hate crimes and ethnic discrimination. The Rohingyas in Myanmar had to face the latter.
So, who are Rohingyas?
Rohingyas are a Muslim ethnic minority group that has lived as a people in Myanmar for centuries. (Citation needed 1). Today, more than a million of them live in the country, most in the western coastal state of Rakhine, where they make up around a third of the population. (Citation needed 1).There are frequent clashes between Rohingyas and the Myanmar security forces, as well as other ethnic groups in Rakhine, which are predominantly Buddhist. (Citation needed 1).

Facebook is one of the top Social Networking sites where people interact and share information. Facebook has been accused by the U.N. investigators of playing a role in inflicting harm that drove nearly 700,000 Muslim Rohingya out of Myanmar and killed at least 6700 people. (Citation needed 2,1). Facebook is so popular and widely used in Myanmar that the around 85% of the country’s Internet traffic flows through the network and the platform was used by the president for his resignation. (Citation needed 2,3).
So, why is Facebook popular in Myanmar and what makes it accessible?
Many people in Myanmar, where until recently Internet penetration was among the lowest in the world, pay for smartphones to come preloaded with Facebook accounts and pre-liked pages. (Citation needed 2, 4).So, as the smartphones are loaded with pre-liked pages then those pages have content which might influence people in a certain way or other. I believe the social media giant should be looking to remove this pre-liked functionality.
The negative thing as I mentioned earlier with the Social Networking platform is the availability of fake news and posts related to hate crimes. As the virtual world is swift as compared to the real world in the production of news, so the virtual news is certainly going to direct people in one direction. So, as most of the population in Myanmar is using facebook they are relying on Facebook for news. The news provided through Facebook in Myanmar reflects the situation in the country as the posts display ethnic discrimination, use of foul language and fabricated articles on Muslims and are being shared by government officials and hardline factions. (Citation needed 2, 3).
Facebook claims that its platform could be misused and had prevented the circulation of two inflammatory chain messages in Myanmar. (Citation needed 2, 2). But these claims were challenged by the Myanmar civil society groups who criticized the Facebook’s algorithm to detect improper content. (Citation needed 2, 2). These groups were the ones who reported these messages to Facebook that had already caused a lot of damage in Myanmar. (Citation needed 2, 2).
I am of the opinion the current Facebook platform can’t prevent the posts relating to hate speech or ethnic discrimination, so Facebook should look forward to building an algorithm to prevent these. Facebook should build an algorithm that blocks Facebook and third-party services in regions that are affected by hate crimes or posts related to them.
I believe Facebook couldn’t have stopped the spread of hate in Myanmar but could have prevented the dissemination of hate crimes. As humans, we are mostly responsible to stop such hate crimes from happening. So I believe people living in Myanmar should be educated about the hate crimes and vandalism affecting innocent human lives. Educating people is the way to enlighten them and make better individuals in the society.

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