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A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

Why it matters: Facebook has been long weaponized by the Myanmar military to help spread disinformation disparaging the minority Rohinga Muslim population.

  • The company has been taking action on military groups there for years, after finding nearly ten military-backed coordinated inauthentic behavior campaigns over the past several years.

Details: In a blog post, Facebook said that events since the Feb. 1 coup, "including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban."

  • "We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great," Rafael Frankel, Director of Policy, APAC Emerging Countries for Facebook wrote.
  • Facebook said it will also be prohibiting Tatmadaw-linked commercial entities from advertising on the platform. (Tatmadaw is the name of the military group.)
  • Facebook said it reached its decision on the bans, which will remain in effect indefinitely, by applying the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

For the record: "This action builds on the steps we have taken in recent years to prevent the Tatmadaw from abusing our platform," Facebook said in its post.

  • "Among these are: banning 20 military-linked individuals and organizations in 2018, including commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing, for their role in severe human rights violations; and removing at least six coordinated inauthentic behavior networks run by the Tatmadaw from 2018 to 2020."
  • The tech giant said the ban "does not cover government ministries and agencies engaged in the provision of essential public services," like the Ministry of Health and Sport and the Ministry of Education.


Go deeper

Facebook says it will pay news industry $1 billion over 3 years

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Dublin with the tech giant's global affairs vice president Nick Clegg. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

Facebook announced Wednesday it plans to invest $1 billion to "support the news industry" over the next three years and admits it "erred on the side of over-enforcement" by banning news links in Australia.

Why it matters: Facebook is following in Google's footsteps, after last October the company pledged to pay publishers over $1 billion during the next three years to create and curate high-quality journalism for its Google News Showcase.

Feb 25, 2021 - Technology

House begins brewing new tech antitrust laws

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While lawsuits against Google and Facebook crawl their way through the courts, a second front in Washington's war on Big Tech is heating up, as legislators zero in on ways to draft new antitrust laws that take into account the unique traits of digital markets.

Driving the news: House lawmakers on the Judiciary Committee's antitrust subcommittee will grill experts and witnesses Thursday in an effort to chronicle the alleged monopolistic practices of "gatekeeper" tech companies — a prelude to drafting new laws to rein them in.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Peloton stock tanks on report of production halt

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Peloton stock fell by as much as 25% on Thursday, following a CNBC report that the connected fitness company will temporarily halt production on its bikes and treadmills.

Why it matters: Peloton is viewed by many as a proxy for consumer behavior in the pandemic era, as its popularity surged when gyms closed and people wanted to exercise at home.