Facebook shuts dozens of Myanmar social media accounts over 'inauthentic behavior"

Thu Thu Aung, Reuters

Posted at Aug 22 2019 03:03 PM

Small toy figures are seen in front of Facebook logo in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. Dado Ruvic, Reuters/Illustration/File Photo

YANGON, MYANMAR - Facebook Inc said on Thursday it had shut 216 social media pages, groups and accounts in Myanmar, some tied to the army, to stymie efforts to "manipulate or corrupt public debate".

The company closed 89 Facebook accounts, 107 pages, 15 groups and 5 Instagram accounts, some of which had hundreds of thousands of followers, it said in a blogpost.

The social media giant has previously removed hundreds of accounts, including that of Myanmar’s army chief, after criticism it had failed to act on hate speech amid violence against Rohingya Muslims in the country.

The people behind the latest deleted Myanmar accounts repurposed legitimate news and entertainment content and posted about national and local topics, including crime, ethnic relations, celebrities, and the military, it said.

"Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found that some of this activity was linked to individuals associated with the Myanmar military."

In 2017, the military led a crackdown in Myanmar’s Rakhine State in response to attacks by Rohingya insurgents, pushing more than 730,000 Rohingya to neighboring Bangladesh, according to UN agencies.