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Facebook has announced it has banned the Myanmar military, military-controlled state and media entities, as well as ads from military-linked commercial entities on all its platforms.

The platform cited the February 1 coup by the Myanmar military to overthrow the country’s leader Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and the deadly violence that preceded during protests, behind its decision.

“We are continuing to treat the situation in Myanmar as an emergency and we remain focused on the safety of our community, and the people of Myanmar more broadly. We believe the risks of allowing the military on Facebook and Instagram are too great,” said Rafael Frankel, the director of policy for emerging countries in APAC in a blog post.

“We’re also prohibiting the military’s commercial entities from advertising on the platform. We are using the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar’s 2019 report, on the economic interests of the military, 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.”

Why has Facebook banned Myanmar’s military?

  • The platform said the military’s history of exceptionally severe human rights abuses against the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority group and the clear risk of future military-initiated violence in Myanmar, where the military is operating unchecked and with wide-ranging powers.

  • Facebook pointed to the history of on-platform content and behaviour violations that led it to repeatedly enforce its policies and protect its community.

  • There are also 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 Facebook previously removed, and content that violates its violence and incitement and coordinating harm policies, which the platform removed.

  • Facebook said the coup greatly increases the danger posed and the likelihood that online threats could lead to offline harm.

What happened in Myanmar?

  • The military launched a coup on February 1, detaining Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and her staff in early morning raids and seizing power from a government established only five years ago.

  • State television broadcast a statement from the military that claimed extreme steps were necessary because of what is labelled as ‘voter fraud’ in elections in November 2020.

  • The election had confirmed Daw Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy’s dominance over the military’s proxy party. In its statement, the military said that it will oversee free and fair multiparty elections after the end of the state of emergency.

  • The country’s mobile and Internet networks went intermittently down in major cities and some local journalists went into hiding for fear that their reporting could compromise their safety.