CBS News: “Technology is like a bomb”: Social media weaponized in Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis. “The utopian dream of internet and social media pioneers — the idea that connecting millions of people in cyberspace would make the world a better place — has run into a darker reality as invisible armies of trolls, bots and propagandists use the technology to sway public opinion and poison debate. Perhaps nowhere has that impact been more malign than in Myanmar, where social media has been weaponized against the vulnerable Rohingya minority as the regime carries out what one U.N. official calls ‘a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.'”
Quartz: Is Facebook playing a part in the Rohingya genocide?. “Based on our research in Myanmar and in Cuba, we argue that internet usage in Myanmar is dangerous. Unbridled connection to Facebook creates what we call a ‘virtual coercive,’ a digital space that bolsters coercion. We suggest that Cuba’s internet model may provide lessons to manage social media amid political chaos. The utility of inventions can be unpredictable, and so too can the social impacts be catastrophic.” Remember, just because I include it in ResearchBuzz doesn’t necessarily mean I agree with it. It just means I consider it an important issue.
France24: Language of persecuted Rohingya poised to go digital. “For decades the Rohingya have been denied recognition in Myanmar but the persecuted minority is close to securing a crucial symbol of their identity — their own unique digital alphabet. The language of the stateless Muslim people has been included in the planned upgrade to the Unicode Standard, the global coding system that turns written script into digital characters and numbers.”
Washington Post: Fake news on Facebook fans the flames of hate against the Rohingya in Burma. “Burma was long closed off by a military regime, with centuries-old tensions between its Buddhist and Muslim communities leashed by strict control over traditional media.As the country transitions into democracy, those constraints have loosened and access to the Internet has expanded rapidly, most notably through a Facebook program called Free Basics that has catapulted the platform into prominence as a major source of news in Burma. But the sudden proliferation of recently available technologies has accelerated the spread of ethnic hatred in Burma, stoking tensions amid a violent military crackdown that has sent more than 600,000 Rohingya fleeing across the border into Bangladesh.”
Cornell Sun: Myanmar’s Hidden Genocide Was Shaped by Hate-Mongering Facebook Memes, Cornell Profs Say. “‘It seems so far, that this is a genocide carried out with impunity,’ Prof. Magnus Fiskesjö, anthropology, said, discussing the geopolitical ramifications of the Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar at a panel discussion concluding Rohingya Week at Cornell. Panelists on Thursday analyzed the current political state of Myanmar as a result of attacks on Rohingya Muslims by the Myanmar military. Fiskesjö — who has long worked with issues concerning ethnic minorities in Myanmar — discussed the majority public opinion in Myanmar, against the Rohingya and how the genocide has ‘been shaped and helped by Facebook.'”
The Diplomat: Social Media Exhibits Its Disruptive Power in Myanmar. “If the past two decades of foreign interventionism have taught us anything, it is that democracy cannot be imposed upon a nation unless it has the social, cultural, economic, and institutional architecture to enable it. The same should be said of democratic tools — including a free press, elections, and, of course, civic technologies. Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp were once hailed as disruptive forces set to empower, mobilize, and inform the voiceless in authoritarian states. After all, they were the catalysts behind the Arab Spring movement. But as we’re now seeing, technology’s ability to grow democracy depends wholly on our ability to wield it.”
Global Voices: Violence in Northwest Myanmar Sparks an Information War Online with Anti-Rohingya Hate Speech and Fake Photos. “Myanmar’s internet exploded with hate speech, fake news photos, and racist narratives after the Myanmar military clashed with Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) on August 25, 2017, near the Bangladesh border in the northwestern part of the country. The violence lasted for days with the Myanmar government immediately declaring ARSA a terrorist group while launching aggressive ‘clearance operations’ in the villages of Rakhine state. The government and ARSA blamed each other for civilian casualties caused by the conflict.”