Nadav Spiegelman

Meta in Myanmar, Part III. The Inside View

https://erinkissane.com/meta-in-myanmar-part-iii-the-inside-view
Author
Erin Kissane
My last highlight
2024-01-22
Number of highlights
7

My Highlights

In 2018, the *New York Times* published [a front-page account](https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/15/technology/myanmar-facebook-genocide.html?unlocked_article_code=KARVJapYvl1Y6L1cieWmNoOFxPgEAC2ZMHtfiZ7BsjuB4MSBfeTmmw8qAgf_LqJHnCEapaMqECHmO3q7kvvtYwii2910C_u_Kg-_EbNKEiyYglifgsfqSOQjuBB7jIpIGMYoG6yhsVeZ870Qc4PGIb0GNsypqYsMOY73_yzGrn79cFHQfEzvYPBJATppRHCHK-qy3gOmuLY0Tw_NmiDBDrF9veQ5xyjMCtfYXjNOJ1IbzxXuzCFUPMwscGe1WwM8-g_f-Byy-zbYVnSYx_wTJYPcCcrp7KppFt6NpxbBbVHLO0e-2gd2LKxotalTNVYGXiHq2mJYNaVhoDJaixTf6GADI3oUnA&smid=url-share) of what really happened on Facebook in Myanmar, which is that beginning around 2013, Myanmar’s military, the Tatmadaw, set up a dedicated, ultra-secret anti-Rohingya hatefarm spread across military bases in which up to 700 staffers worked in shifts **to manufacture the appearance of overwhelming support for the genocide the same military then carried out**.[16](https://erinkissane.com/meta-in-myanmar-part-iii-the-inside-view#footnote-16LOR)
Genocidal communications are an inextricable part of a system that turns “ethnic tensions” into mass death. When we see that the Tatmadaw was literally the operator of covert hate and dehumanization propaganda networks on Facebook, I think the most rational way to understand those networks is as *an integral part* of the genocidal campaign.
One post that got passed around a lot includes a graphic photo of a woman tortured and murdered by a Mexican cartel, presented as a Buddhist woman in Myanmar murdered by the Rohingya.
For a much more recent example of Meta refusing to remove fake-Page networks and coordinated influence campaigns connected to high-profile accounts, see this September 27, 2023 Washington Post article on how [Meta knowingly let covert coordinated influence campaigns run loose on Facebook](https://erinkissane.com/meta-in-myanmar-part-iii-the-inside-view/”https://wapo.st/3PBtyme”) because they were run by the Indian army.
Because of Haugen’s disclosures, we also know that in 2020, for the category, “Remove, reduce, inform/measure misinformation on FB Apps, Includes Community Review and Matching”—so, that’s moderation targeting misinformation specifically—only 13% of the total budget went to the non-US countries that provide more than 90% of Facebook’s user base, and which include *all* of those At Risk Countries. The other 87% of the budget was reserved for the 10% of Facebook users who live in the United States.[38](https://erinkissane.com/meta-in-myanmar-part-iii-the-inside-view#footnote-38LOR)
Rosen told her that he agreed with those priorities. Zhang pushed back (my emphasis): > I get that the US/western Europe/etc is important, but for a company with effectively unlimited resources, I don’t understand why this cannot get on the roadmap for anyone … A strategic response manager told me that **the world outside the US/Europe was basically like the wild west with me as the part-time dictator in my spare time. He considered that to be a positive development because to his knowledge it wasn’t covered by anyone before** he learned of the work I was doing. Rosen replied, “I wish resources were unlimited.”[30](https://erinkissane.com/meta-in-myanmar-part-iii-the-inside-view#footnote-30LOR) I’ll quote Wong’s next passage in full: “At the time, the company was about to [report](https://investor.fb.com/investor-news/press-release-details/2020/Facebook-Reports-Fourth-Quarter-and-Full-Year-2019-Results/default.aspx) annual operating profits of $23.9bn on $70.7bn in revenue. It had $54.86bn in cash on hand.”
So not only were the violent, violence-promoting posts still showing up in Myanmar four years later after the atrocities in Rakhine State—and after the Tatmadaw turned the full machinery of of its violence onto opposition members of Myanmar’s Buddhist ethnic majority—but *Facebook was still funneling users directly into them* after even the lightest engagement with anodyne pro-military content.