Rohingya activists in Myanmar and abroad say social media site Facebook is removing posts documenting the ethnic cleansing of Rohingyas, The Daily Beast reports.
Several Rohingya people interviewed on the matter say Facebook has removed their posts and shut down accounts.
The social media site is an important platform for many in Myanmar. Experts told the Daily Beast that to many in the country, Facebook is the Internet.
Kuala Lumpur-based Rohingya activist and journalist Mohammad Anwar says Facebook has deleted posts about violence in Rakhine and threatened to disable his account.
A post from Aug 28 on helicopters flying over Rohingya villages was removed by the social media site because ‘it did not meet Facebook’s community standards’.
Another post regarding the Myanmar military burning a village in Maungdaw was also removed with the same explanation from Facebook.
Smoke is seen on Myanmar’s side of border as a Rohingya refugee men carry children from a boat after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.
“#Rohingya homes in the downtown of #Maungdaw are still being set ablaze by the #Myanmar military & #Rakhine extremists,” Anwar wrote in another post.Facebook deleted it, suspended Anwar temporarily and threatened to permanently disable his account.
“I have deactivated my account in frustration,” Anwar told The Daily Beast.
Anwar currently uses Twitter, which has a much smaller reach in Myanmar, under the handle @mdskar.
According to Facebook it removes posts or disable accounts that directly threaten users, encourage suicide or self-harm, promote terrorist organisations or organise hate groups. However the policy on what speech is allowed is vague.
A Rohingya man living in Myanmar, who was identified as Rahim, said Rohingyas face a major issue using the site because it requires the use of real names.
“As I am a person who writes mostly about Rohingya who are under ethnic cleansing of Myanmar, I have been closely monitored by the government,” he told The Daily Beast in a WhatsApp text.
“Therefore I fear using my real name and picture on Facebook.”
Rohingya refugees stretch their hands for relief materials at Palongkhali in Ukhia, Cox’s Bazar as aid workers throw clothes from a truck. bdnews24.com
Facebook has deleted several accounts where he writes poems and updates about Rohingyas under a Rohingya pen name, Rahim says. But an account he made with a Burmese name, which identified the user as Buddhist, has not been removed, he said.Canada-based Myanmar Muslim Aung Tin says his account has been shut down over 10 times due to his posts about the persecution of Burmese Muslims.
A post criticising Myanmar Home Affairs Minister Lt Gen Kyaw Swe led to a month-long freeze on the account, he said.
He was also banned for a month over a comment on a photo of a Myanmar soldier who was brandishing a firearm and threatening to kill Muslims, he said. In the comment he bashed the Myanmar government for ‘poisoning the whole country’.
Rohingya expat and blogger Nay San Lwin says he faces a constant stream of harassment, including threats of sexual violence and defacement of the Quran, on Facebook. He fears Facebook is biased against Rohingyas.
“They should hire a team who are unbiased,” he said. “This team is completely biased.”