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Govt, Facebook to purge hate speech accounts

(Photo: DVB)

Burma’s government is set to work with Facebook to delete any accounts on the social network that post hate speech or incite personal attacks during the upcoming election, the President’s Office told DVB.

Zaw Htay, director of the President’s Office, said that the government has reviewed Facebook’s community standards, and will move to prosecute users that break the guidelines under the country’s controversial Electronic Transactions Law.

“Facebook has a branch office in Burma,” he said. “We met with them [Facebook staff] once in Naypyidaw and one time in Rangoon, where we discussed the community standards that ban personal attacks, including cartoons. Facebook explained that they would take action by working in partnership with the authorities if people don’t follow these standards.”

Zaw Htay added the government plans to educate the public on Facebook’s guidelines through the media.

Amongst the banned activities on Facebook are: threats, intimidation, hateful or disturbing speech, releasing personal information, infringing copyrights, and inciting violence.

Nay Bong Latt, a Burmese new-media activist, said that any charges placed should be free from bias and that civil society organisations should also be included in monitoring online behaviour.

“I am concerned that the people using their real names will be charged after saying something [that contravenes Facebook standards], but those who use pseudonyms will not be charged if authorities cannot trace them. If it [the government] really want to charge them [some Facebook users], there should be no bias.”

Burmese movie director Mite Tee has recently come under fire from the President’s Office, earning a public scolding over a Facebook post depicting cartoon violence towards the president.

“Any acts promoting violence will be charged under our anti-terror acts. Citizens should get freedom, but according to existing laws. Similarly, if someone breaks the law, he or she will be charged accordingly. There should be responsibility with practicing freedoms – people should take responsibility for what they have done,” the President’s Office warning said.

Read more background on Burma’s controversial Electronics Act