Myanmar Military, Associates Banned From Facebook, Instagram

By The Irrawaddy 25 February 2021

Facebook banned all remaining accounts, pages and media entities controlled by the Myanmar military on Facebook and Instagram—Myanmar’s most popular social media platforms—as well as ads by military-linked commercial entities on Thursday.

Facebook said in a statement: “We’re continuing to treat the situation in Myanmar as an emergency and we remain focused on the safety of our community, and the people of Myanmar more broadly.”

It said the ban was prompted by security forces’ deadly crackdowns on peaceful protesters since the Feb. 1 coup. “We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw [Myanmar’s military] on Facebook and Instagram are too great,” it said.

The military seized power from the democratically elected government on Feb. 1 and detained government leaders including State Counselor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and President U Win Myint, citing its previously raised claims of electoral fraud.

Regarding its prohibition of Tatmadaw-linked commercial entities from advertising on the platform, Facebook cited “the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar’s 2019 report, on the economic interests of the Tatmadaw, as the basis to guide these efforts, along with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. These bans will remain in effect indefinitely.”

The ban does not cover government ministries and agencies engaged in the provision of essential public services, including the Ministry of Health and Sports, and the Ministry of Education.

On Feb. 4, the military regime completely blocked access to Facebook and Instagram for a few days, as online campaigns against the coup, including the Civil Disobedience Movement, began to organize on the platforms.

The regime blocked Twitter a few days later—access has since been restored—and has partially blocked Internet access from 1 a.m. to 9 a.m. daily since Feb. 15. Facebook users continue to experience very slow connections when accessing the app.

Early this month, Facebook disabled the Tatmadaw True News Information Team page, along with the military-controlled MRTV and MRTV Live pages,  for continuing to violate Facebook’s policies “which prohibit coordinating harm and incitement to violence.”

Facebook has also reduced the distribution of content on at least 23 pages and profiles controlled and/or operated by the Tatmadaw so that fewer people can see them.

With the MRTV and Tatmadaw True News Information pages having been removed, the regime on Tuesday announced the launch of the State Administrative Council True News Information page on Facebook, but it was removed within hours.

In 2018, Facebook banned 20 military-linked individuals and organizations, including commander-in-chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, for their role in severe human rights violations.

Between 2018 and 2020, it removed at least six networks of pages run by the Myanmar military for violating its “coordinated inauthentic behavior” policy.

Facebook pledged to continue monitoring the situation in Myanmar and said it “will take additional measures if necessary to keep people safe.”

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