Social media companies should stand up to Myanmar junta’s online terror campaign: UN experts

4 mins read

Myanmar military supporters using social media to harass, incite violence against pro-democracy activists, human rights defenders

Myanmar’s military junta is orchestrating an online campaign of terror and weaponizing social media platforms to crush democratic opposition, UN experts said Monday.

“Online rhetoric has spilled into real-world terror, with military supporters using social media to harass and incite violence against pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders,” they said in a statement.

[su_posts posts_per_page=”1″ tax_term=”27764″ offset=”1″ order=”desc” orderby=”id” post_status=”any” ignore_sticky_posts=”yes”]

“Women have been targeted and severely harmed,” they added.

The experts said that pro-junta accounts regularly use hateful, sexualized and discriminatory rhetoric in an attempt to discredit women activists and human rights defenders.

“Gendered abuse has caused many women to cut back their online activism and retreat from public life,” they said.

The UN experts warned that messaging and social media platforms – particularly Telegram – have become a hotbed of pro-military activity.

“Since the coup, pro-junta actors have taken advantage of Telegram’s lax approach to content moderation and gaps in its terms of service,” they said.

“They have attracted tens of thousands of followers by posting violent and misogynistic content.”

The experts noted that women are often targets of so-called “doxing,” publishing private information about individuals without their consent, including names and addresses.

Calls for violence or arrest by junta forces frequently accompany these attacks.

‘Doxxed’ women

“Doxxed” women have also been accused of having sexual relations with Muslim men or supporting the Muslim population – a common ultranationalist, discriminatory and Islamophobic narrative in Myanmar, said the experts.

“Failing to cement its grip on power by locking up political prisoners and gunning down peaceful protesters, the junta has escalated its ruthless suppression of dissent to virtual spaces,” they said.

They explained that the junta was terrified of women’s power to mobilize resistance to military rule in online spaces.

“Every day, women are being threatened online with sexualized violence because they are standing up for human rights, opposing the military’s attempted rule, and fighting for a return to a democratic path,” said the experts.

“’Doxxing’ and other forms of online harassment add to the multiple threats that women activists, human rights defenders and independent associations are already facing in Myanmar,” they said.

After being made aware of these offenses and shortly before publishing critical reports detailing abuse on its platform, Telegram blocked at least 13 pro-military accounts, although at least one of the worst offending channels is back online.

While welcoming Telegram’s recent actions, the experts said more is needed.

“Unless Telegram fundamentally changes its approach to content moderation in Myanmar, it is likely that pro-military actors will simply open new accounts and continue their campaign of harassment,” they said.

The experts urged Telegram and other social media platforms to meet their responsibilities to identify, prevent and mitigate human rights abuses.

The experts include Thomas Andrews, Special Rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar; Ana Brian Nougrères, Special Rapporteur on the right to Privacy; Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders; and Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly.

Link: AA 


The ancient idea tries to provide the most accurate information to its readers in all the content it publishes.