Facebook removes more pages, accounts linked to Myanmar military

Military-linked accounts have fueled deadly violence in the country.

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Smoke billows above what is believed to be a burning village in Myanmar's Rakhine state in September.

K.m. Asad/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook said Thursday it identified and removed hundreds of pages and accounts linked to Myanmar military efforts to spread fake news and hate speech, which has fueled deadly violence in the country.

In all, Facebook said it removed 425 Facebook pages, 135 Facebook accounts, 17 Facebook groups and 15 Instagram accounts linked to the Myanmar military "engaging in coordinated inauthentic behavior" on the platform.

The purge is the second takedown targeting Myanmar military activity on Facebook that the social network has undertaken in recent months. In August, Facebook removed 18 accounts and 52 pages associated with the ethnic violence against Rohingya Muslims in the country.

The pages removed in the recent purge masqueraded as independent news, entertainment, beauty and lifestyle pages. One of the pages removed had about 2.5 million followers, Facebook said.

"Our decision to remove these Pages was based on the behavior of these actors rather than on the type of content they were posting," Facebook said in a blog post.

The purge comes amid reports of continuing widespread genocide being committed by the military in Myanmar. In March, UN human rights experts investigating violence in the country concluded that Facebook played a "determining role" in the crisis, in which hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have fled the country.

The UN's top human rights officials recommended in August that Myanmar military leaders be prosecuted for genocide against Rohingya Muslims. More than 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled Myanmar's Rakhine state since rebel attacks sparked a military backlash in August 2017.

UN investigators have reportedly found numerous crimes committed against the minority in Myanmar, including gang rape, enslavement, torching villages and killing children. Roughly 10,000 people have reportedly been killed in the violence, and tens of thousands have fled the country.

An independent report commissioned by Facebook found the company hasn't always done enough to prevent its platform from spreading hate speech that's contributed to deadly violence in Myanmar. The report, released in November, offered recommendations for helping improve human rights in the country, including stricter enforcement of content policies.

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