Banned from Facebook, Myanmar military finds a voice on Russian social media

Myanmar military officials
Myanmar military officials

After Facebook banned a number of Myanmar military officials in August, citing evidence of human rights violations, the head of the country’s army found a new social media home: Russian social network VKontakte, reports Global Voices.

Founded by Pavel Durov, who would later launch the Telegram messaging app, VKontakte is among the most popular sites in Russia and several Eastern European countries, but the site lacks the global reach of Facebook. Myanmar nationalists have reportedly been promoting the site as an alternative after Facebook issued its ban. In other cases around the world, users banned from name-brand social networks for hate speech have often attempted to relocate to lesser known sites, though they’ve typically lost followers and mainstream attention in doing so.

Facebook removed the accounts after a United Nations report condemned the country’s leadership for violence against the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group within the largely Buddhist nation. Thousands have been killed in ethnic clashes in the country, and more than 700,000 Rohingya people have fled to Bangladesh, the BBC reports. Facebook has been heavily criticized for not doing enough to shut down hate speech against the Rohingya.

“While we were too slow to act, we’re now making progress – with better technology to identify hate speech, improved reporting tools, and more people to review content,” the company said last month in announcing its ban. It’s announced other policies designed to curb hate speech and misinformation in Myanmar.

VKontakte also has policies against hate speech, though the company didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry from Fast Company about how those will impact the Myanmar accounts.