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Facebook expands misinformation policy in Myanmar ahead of polls

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Facebook has invested significantly in proactive detection technology to help it remove such content from the platform more quickly.

San Francisco: Expanding its misinformation policy in Myanmar, Facebook has said it will now remove posts that could lead to voter suppression or damage the integrity of the electoral process of the country’s upcoming general election in November.

“Working with local partners, between now and 22 November, we will remove verifiable misinformation and unverifiable rumours that are assessed as having the potential to suppress the vote or damage the integrity of the electoral process,” Rafael Frankel, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy Southeast Asia, Emerging Markets, said in a blog post on Monday. Citing an example, Facebook said it would remove posts falsely claiming a candidate is a Bengali, not a Myanmar citizen, and thus ineligible.

Myanmar voters will go to the polls for the second democratic election in the country’s recent history on November 8.

Facebook, which has faced criticism for its failure to prevent the spread of hate speech on the platform, said it has invested significantly in proactive detection technology to help it remove such content from the platform more quickly.

“We also use AI to proactively identify hate speech in 45 languages, including Burmese,” Frankel said. Only about a week ago, four rights groups claimed that the social networking giant played a role in the 2017 violence in Myanmar that forced hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas to seek refuge in Bangladesh.

The rights groups in a joint statement demanded that Facebook help the Rohingya refugees to get justice. Facebook said that in the second quarter of 2020, it took action against 280,000 pieces of content in Myanmar for violations of its Community Standards prohibiting hate speech.

Of these, 97.8 percent was detected proactively before it was reported. “We’re also introducing more transparency when it comes to issuing, electoral and political ads, going far beyond the standard in print and broadcast media,” Frankel said.

As of this month, all these ads in Myanmar must have a “Paid for by” disclaimer attached to them to show the organisation or person behind the ad.

Many teams at Facebook have worked over the past few years to better understand how the platform is used in Myanmar and how it can play a part in helping to prevent harm, the social networking giant said. “We’ve also built a team that is dedicated to Myanmar,” Frankel said.

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