Facebook bans Rohingya militant group

Myanmar police standing guard at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State, on Sept 1, 2017.
Myanmar police standing guard at an Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camp in Sittwe, Rakhine State, on Sept 1, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

YANGON • Facebook said it has banned a Rohingya militant group from its site, designating it a "dangerous organisation" as information on the deepening crisis is muddied by claims, counter-claims and hate speech on social media.

The social network is a key tool in the information war taking place over violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state, which has driven more than 420,000 Rohingya Muslims from the country and sparked accusations from the United Nations of military-led "ethnic cleansing".

Rohingya activists have used the platform to post alleged scenes of brutality from the conflict zone, where humanitarian and media access is severely restricted, while the army and government deliver near-daily updates on the crisis.

A Facebook spokesman on Wednesday said there was no request by the government to bar the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (Arsa), which remains active on Twitter. The spokesman said the move was in line with its policy of prohibiting violent groups from its site.

The latest violence in Rahkine erupted after a series of deadly Arsa attacks on police posts and an army camp last month. The army has been blamed for launching a crackdown that has forced thousands of Rohingya into neighbouring Bangladesh.

The spokesman said Facebook was aware that Rohingya activists were using the site to draw attention to the violence, and that it intended to allow non-graphic content to remain online.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2017, with the headline 'Facebook bans Rohingya militant group'. Print Edition | Subscribe