Meta bans all military-linked Myanmar companies

Meta Platforms Inc, formerly known as Facebook, has said it will ban all Myanmar-military controlled businesses from having a presence on its platforms over ongoing violence and human rights abuses.

Over a hundred social media pages in Myanmar have been taken down including Myawaddy Trading Ltd, Myawaddy Bank and Myanma Beer.
Over a hundred social media pages in Myanmar have been taken down including Myawaddy Trading Ltd, Myawaddy Bank and Myanma Beer. (Reuters Archive)

Facebook parent Meta will ban all pages and accounts belonging to Myanmar military-backed businesses, expanding its restraints on the country’s armed forces.

Meta “will now also remove Pages, Groups and Accounts representing military-controlled businesses”, it said in a statement on Tuesday.

The decision was “based on extensive documentation by the international community of these businesses’ direct role in funding the Tatmadaw’s ongoing violence and human rights abuses in Myanmar”, it said.

It would use the report from a 2019 UN fact-finding mission into the military’s economic interests “as the basis” for its actions, it added.

Over a hundred pages down

Myanmar’s secretive military, also known as the Tatmadaw, has extensive business interests, with tentacles in industries as diverse as beer, tobacco, transportation, textiles, tourism and banking.

Activists and rights groups say they funded crackdowns and abuses even before the February coup that ousted Aung San Suu Kyi and launched a bloody crackdown on dissent.

Rafael Frankel, Meta’s Pacific director of public policy for emerging countries in Asia Pacific, told Reuters it had already taken down over 100 accounts, pages, and groups linked to military-controlled businesses.

The pages of Myawaddy Trading Ltd, Myawaddy Bank and Myanma Beer — all included in the 2019 UN report — were inaccessible as of Wednesday.

A page for a film production company allegedly run by the daughter of junta chief Min Aung Hlaing was also blocked.

In late February Facebook removed all accounts linked to the Tatmadaw, citing the junta’s use of deadly force against anti-coup demonstrators.

It also banned military-linked firms from advertising on its platforms.

The social media giant — Myanmar’s most popular and influential site — has been lambasted for years for its ineffective response to malicious posts, particularly against the country’s Rohingya Muslims.

It has been accused of being slow to respond to abusive posts portraying Rohingya in sub-human terms, helping to drum up support for a military crackdown that forced more than 740,000 to flee the country in 2017.

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