Rahul Sachitanand
Feb 25, 2021

Facebook bans Myanmar military and ads from military-linked companies

This just-announced move not only bans military-controlled state and media entities from Facebook and Instagram but also prohibits ads from military-linked commercial entities.

The three-finger gesture has become a symbol of protest in Myanmar.(Shutterstock)
The three-finger gesture has become a symbol of protest in Myanmar.(Shutterstock)

Facebook has banned the Myanmar military (Tatmadaw) from Facebook and Instagram with immediate effect. This includes military-controlled state and media entities, as well as ads from military-linked commercial entities.

The tech platform continues to treat the situation in Myanmar as an emergency and remains focused on the safety of the community, and the people of Myanmar more broadly, it announced. It used 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 company said.

The Tatmadaw’s history of on-platform content and behavior violations led to Facebook repeatedly enforcing its policies to protect the community, Facebook disclosed. The company cited, "Ongoing violations by the military and military-linked accounts and Pages since the February 1 coup, including efforts to reconstitute networks of coordinated inauthentic behavior that we previously removed, and content that violates our violence and incitement and coordinating harm policies, which we removed".

This action builds on the steps the platform has taken recently to prevent the Tatmadaw from abusing the platform. These include banning 20 military-linked individuals and organisations in 2018, including commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, for their role in severe human rights violations; and removing at least six coordinated inauthentic behavior networks run by the Tatmadaw from 2018 to 2020.

Since the coup, Facebook has disabled the Tatmadaw True News Information Team Page, and MRTV and MRTV Live Pages for continuing to violate its policies, which prohibit coordinating harm and incitement to violence. The network has also reduced the distribution of content on at least 23 pages and profiles controlled and/or operated by the Tatmadaw so fewer people see them, it revealed. 

This ban does not cover government ministries and agencies engaged in the provision of essential public services. This includes the Ministry of Health and Sport, and the Ministry of Education.

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