Facebook played a role in spreading hate speech in Myanmar, according to UN human rights experts investigating a possible genocide there.
Marzuki Darusman, chairman of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, said social media has played a "determining role" in the crisis, in which hundreds of thousands Rohingya Muslims have fled the country, according to Reuters.
"It has ... substantively contributed to the level of acrimony and dissension and conflict, if you will, within the public. Hate speech is certainly of course a part of that. As far as the Myanmar situation is concerned, social media is Facebook, and Facebook is social media," he said.
More than 650,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state since rebel attacks sparked a military backlash last August. Many refugees have described executions and rapes by Myanmar security forces.
Facebook has admitted the difficulty it faces in tackling hate speech. The world's most popular social network said last year it removes about 66,000 posts a week -- around 288,000 monthly -- on what it considers hateful rhetoric.
Facebook defines hate speech as attacks on people based on their race, sexual orientation and other "protected characteristics," saying it depends heavily on its nowto report any hate speech they encounter. Workers review the posts and decide whether to take them down.
Facebook said it works hard to keep hate speech off the social network.
"We have invested significantly in technology and local language expertise to help us swiftly remove hate content and people who repeatedly violate our hate speech policies," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We take this incredibly seriously and have worked with experts in Myanmar for several years to develop safety resources and counter-speech campaigns."
Updated 3/13 at 8 a.m. PT with Facebook comment.
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