UN Human Rights Chief Says Facebook Ignored Myanmar Genocide

While Facebook rushes to focus on hate speech in the United States, apparently it hasn’t analyzed accounts from war-torn places like Myanmar.

Until recently, military personnel from Myanmar were allowed to have accounts on Facebook. At the end of August, Facebook discovered that certain individuals and organizations “committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in the country.” On August 29, the UN human rights chief, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, (from Jordan), claimed that when the UN warned Facebook about the serious situation in Myanmar, “they were not taking it very seriously.”

He told reporters that there were other cases “where Facebook is the dominant medium in a country where you see deterioration of human rights conditions and then their role would be brought into question.” Because of the nature of the accounts used by the bad governments, Facebook could actually be held accountable for the crimes committed against human rights.

“We’ve seen from the jurisprudence of the past that if you’ve enabled, you’ve abetted, you’ve been an accessory,” said Zeid. While he made sure to note that he was not accusing Facebook, he did say that the company needs to be careful if it doesn’t want to be subpoenaed.

In March, the UN announced that Facebook had played a “determining role” in Myanmar’s situation. A report stated that “Facebook have been a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate .. .the extent to which Facebook posts and messages have led to real-world discrimination and violence must be independently and thoroughly examined.

When Americans think of hate speech, the definition of actual violence does not seem to come up. However, in other countries, hate speech is something that can lead to genocide.   

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