Facebook on Thursday said it had banned the Myanmar military from using its Facebook and Instagram platforms with immediate effect, as weeks of mass demonstrations continue in the Southeast Asian country after the military seized power.
“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have caused a need for this ban,” Facebook said in a blog post. “We think the risks of allowing Tatmadaw (Myanmar’s Army) on Facebook and Instagram are too great.”
The army took power this month after alleging fraud in the November 8 election swept by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) and detaining her and much of the party leadership.
At least three protesters and a police officer have been killed in violence at rallies.
The US tech giant said it would also ban all “Tadmadaw-linked commercial devices” from advertising on its platforms.
The decision to ban Myanmar’s army was said to be due to “exceptionally serious human rights violations and the clear risk of future military – initiated violence in Myanmar”, as well as the army’s repeated history of violating Facebook’s rules, including the coup.
The military government could not be reached immediately for comment.
Facbook is widely used in Myanmar and has been one of the ways the junta has communicated with people, despite an official move to ban the platform at the beginning of the coup.
In recent years, Facebook has collaborated with civil rights activists and democratic political parties in Myanmar and pushed back against the military after being subjected to international criticism for not containing hate campaigns online.
In 2018, it banned Army Chief Min Aung Hlaing – now the military leader – and 19 other senior officers and organizations, and took down hundreds of pages and accounts run by military members for coordinated inactive behavior.
In the run-up to the November election, Facebook announced that it had taken down a network of 70 fake accounts and pages run by military members who had published either positive content about the army or criticism of Suu Kyi and her party.
The platform said on Thursday that attempts had been made to rebuild army-driven networks that it had previously removed.