The Myanmar military has ordered internet service providers to restrict access to Facebook to counter protests against the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Myanmar military blocked access to Facebook after the fall of the civilian government (AP) … [+]
In a letter posted online, officials from the Ministry of Communications and Information said access to the social media platform would be blocked until Sunday, February 7, to ensure “stability”.
Facebook, which is used as the key to internet access and communication by almost half of the country, was used to coordinate civil opposition to Monday’s coup.
Officials justified the ban on the grounds that Facebook had been used to “spread false news and misinformation … (that is, to cause misunderstanding among the people”) and could lead to civil unrest.
Facebook is reportedly aware of the problem, telling Forbes it is urging authorities to restore connectivity so that people in Myanmar can communicate with their families and friends and access critical information.
Several other Facebook-owned services have also been blocked in the country, including Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram.
Telenor, the service provider that has blocked Facebook under Myanmar law, told Reuters that it had “expressed great concern” and “does not believe the request is based on necessity and proportionality under international human rights law”.
The Myanmar military declared a state of emergency on Monday and handed over power to its commander in chief for a year. Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested with other civilian leaders and jailed for alleged violating import laws. Though the military had previously agreed to share power with civilian leaders, officials alleged that an election won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s party last year was fraudulent, citing a clause in the constitution allowing the armed forces to take over government. In 2018, Facebook admitted that it can and should do more to prevent our platform from being used to promote divisions and incite offline violence. An investigation by the New York Times found that military leaders were using the platform to attack Rohingya Muslims in the country.
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International leaders have harshly criticized the coup despite China and Russia blocking a UN Security Council motion to condemn it. President Joe Biden, along with the heads of state and government, condemned the takeover, but – unlike some foreign heads of state and government – did not describe the incident as a coup. A phrase reported by several news outlets is being contemplated as a coup would force the United States to stop aid.
A trainer has become a surprising internet hit after unwittingly capturing the coup that takes place on the back of a dance video.
Internet service providers in Myanmar block Facebook services by official order (Reuters)
Military coup in Myanmar May plan by Bangladesh to return Rohingya refugees (Forbes)