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MIT Technology Review

Facebook admits it failed when it came to stopping violence in Myanmar

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An independent assessment commissioned by Facebook found that the company needs to be doing more to prevent the incitement of violence in the country.

Some background: The social network became the primary means of online communication in Myanmar around 2013. Soon after, the platform also became the easiest way to encourage violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. But Facebook has long ignored hate speech in the country and struggled to stop it from spreading.

The news: Facebook released a report Monday by the nonprofit Business for Social Responsibility on the role it has played in inciting hatred in Myanmar. An accompanying blog post from the company said, “We agree that we can and should do more.”

More what? Releasing a report is fine and good, but what are they actually going to do about the problem? The nonprofit recommended that Facebook:

     —better enforce its community standards in Myanmar
     —engage with local organizations
     —share data on what has happened to evaluate human rights violations
     —develop AI that can improve responsiveness
     —start planning now for issues that could lead to further violence in the country down the road

The report predicts that the Myanmar’s 2020 elections will present a substantially increased human rights risk, and Facebook needs to prepare for that eventuality.

Can they fix it? Facebook says it’s working on some of the outlined solutions. But it might be too little, too late. And as we have said before, although AI seems like an attractive solution, there are problems with the social network’s plans to use artificial intelligence to combat hate speech.