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Zuckerberg On Facebook's Role In Ethnic Cleansing In Myanmar: 'It's a Real Issue' (vox.com) 136

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Vox: Facebook's fake news problems extend far beyond Russian trolls interfering in U.S. elections. Overseas, false stories have turned into tools of political warfare -- most notably in Myanmar, where government forces have carried out a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Rohingya, the country's Muslim minority group. In an interview with Vox's Ezra Klein, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed Facebook's role in fueling and inciting anti-Muslim and anti-Rohingya sentiment. "The Myanmar issues have, I think, gotten a lot of focus inside the company," Zuckerberg said. "And they're real issues and we take this really seriously."

He recalled one incident where Facebook detected that people were trying to spread "sensational messages" through Facebook Messenger to incite violence on both sides of the conflict. He acknowledged that in such instances, it's clear that people are using Facebook "to incite real-world harm." But in this case, at least, the messages were detected and stopped from going through. "This is certainly something that we're paying a lot of attention to," Zuckerberg continued. "It's a real issue, and we want to make sure that all of the tools that we're bringing to bear on eliminating hate speech, inciting violence, and basically protecting the integrity of civil discussions that we're doing in places like Myanmar, as well as places like the U.S. that do get a disproportionate amount of the attention."

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Zuckerberg On Facebook's Role In Ethnic Cleansing In Myanmar: 'It's a Real Issue'

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  • Keep your damn mouth shut!

    Zuckerberg's mouth is like on of those gigantic backhoes in strip mines that you see on EXtreme TV documentaries . . .

    . . . he keeps digging himself deeper, and deeper . . . and deeper . . .

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Zuck's so glib about it.

    • Much as I dislike Zuck, I do sympathize with him insofar as he is between a rock and a hard place. Keep his mouth shut, and someone else can take control of the narrative and successfully smear him as dangerously uncaring on top of that. Open his mouth, and the issue gets more complicated and stays in the news.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 )

        Much as I dislike Zuck, I do sympathize with him insofar as he is between a rock and a hard place. Keep his mouth shut, and someone else can take control of the narrative and successfully smear him as dangerously uncaring on top of that. Open his mouth, and the issue gets more complicated and stays in the news.

        Poor lad. He took the worst of both. He is dangerously uncaring, has lost control of the narrative, and isn't going to be out of the news for a long time. If he hasn't spoken to Mueller's team yet, I'm sure he will be summoned soon. He's probably a bit frightened, and he almost certainly has a damn good reason to be.

        • Frightened of what? He isn't going to get dragged away in handcuffs, that doesn't happen to C-level people.

          And if Basefuck went tits-up tomorrow he's probably got more money down the back of the couch than most people make in a lifetime.

    • by gweihir ( 88907 ) on Monday April 02, 2018 @06:44PM (#56369519)

      He is probably getting a bit desperate there. Obviously this is one more attempt at distracting people from the extreme political mess he just had a part in. But selecting something this stupid as a distraction is impressive. Well, in the end, the harder he falls, the better for everybody.

      • by spitzak ( 4019 )

        I don't like Trump much, but as far as I can tell this is far worse. Whatever happened in the US did not cause the military and para-military death squads to start killing all the Mexicans or force them back over the border and burn their neighborhoods.

        • by gweihir ( 88907 )

          No doubt this is bad. But FB did not cause it, it had a small part in some of the propaganda that was used to start it and purely as a communications platform. You are missing the point here.

    • Keep your damn mouth shut!

      Zuckerberg's mouth is like on of those gigantic backhoes in strip mines that you see on EXtreme TV documentaries . . .

      . . . he keeps digging himself deeper, and deeper . . . and deeper . . .

      Zuck called me a minute ago. He says that's a real issue.

  • by Mr307 ( 49185 ) on Monday April 02, 2018 @06:10PM (#56369375)

    What a joke. You can't police so called 'hate speech' whatever that is and also protect anything, the more they stick their fingers into things the worse it gets.

    Protection of speech means allowing everything and letting us decide for ourselves, we are fully capable of telling the wingnuts and assholes from reasoned discussion.

    They are so desperate to control the narrative 'for your protection', its scary. Go ahead and cull the outright incitements to immediate violence but leave the rest and let us decide.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      What a joke. You can't police so called 'hate speech' whatever that is and also protect anything, the more they stick their fingers into things the worse it gets.

      Protection of speech means allowing everything and letting us decide for ourselves, we are fully capable of telling the wingnuts and assholes from reasoned discussion.

      They are so desperate to control the narrative 'for your protection', its scary. Go ahead and cull the outright incitements to immediate violence but leave the rest and let us decide.

      We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard. - Voltaire
      Pretty sure "Here's a pen, some letterhead with my name on it, and borrow my soapbox too." was said by no one, ever.

      Until the Internet Entitlement Age it was also not expected.

    • What a joke. You can't police so called 'hate speech' whatever that is and also protect anything, the more they stick their fingers into things the worse it gets.

      Protection of speech means allowing everything and letting us decide for ourselves, we are fully capable of telling the wingnuts and assholes from reasoned discussion.

      They are so desperate to control the narrative 'for your protection', its scary. Go ahead and cull the outright incitements to immediate violence but leave the rest and let us decide.

      Doesn't work that way laddie. That nasty accessory to a crime is kinda a sticky point. Remember that free speech allows you to say anything you want. But people have free speech to react, and free speech is not an insulation for breaking laws. Or extradition to a country where you enabled it. Has very little to do with protecting "us"

      Bummer that, but hey, he took the money for the news and ads.

    • By their new standards, it seems like the Declaration of Independence, the Federalist Papers, or the Lincoln - Douglas debates would need to be censored for our protection.
    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday April 03, 2018 @09:51AM (#56372367) Homepage Journal

      Well, I don't know who you are, so I can't judge the truth of the statement that "we" are able to tell the difference between reason and hate-mongering propaganda, but if by "we" you mean "people in general", your argument doesn't hold up.

      When I was a teenager I had dinner at the house of an older Jewish couple; the other guests were an elderly German couple who knew my Jewish friends through classical music circles. The German couple was old enough to remember living under the Nazis, and when the conversation turned that way these very nice people made it very clear that in the 1940s they'd have turned in any Jews they'd known were hiding. They wanted me to understand that even respectable, cultured, intelligent people can be brainwashed.

      Look around you. People are perfectly willing to go along with stupid, vicious, even incoherent ideas as long as there are a lot of other people doing it. Most people's behavior isn't governed by religion, or their professed philosophical principles; it's governed by what appears normal to them.

      The reason that government censorship doesn't work isn't because people are wise and thoughtful; it's because government censorship spitting into the wind of perceived normalcy. However, shaming racist bullshit and shunning the people repeating it is very effective.

  • What if the www never existed and the same thing was done through netnews?
    • IME, you are about 10X to find intelligent discussion on NetNews and threaded discussions, than feeds like FB. Now 10X a very small number is not exactly a big number, but it counts for something.

      • If www never exist, NN would have undoubtedly become more ubiquitous though. People would eventually found alternative uses..
        • Fair point. NN was not always exactly nice, which I know you know, from your question.

          • One of the most interesting and exciting (maybe because of it's novelty) was following someone during the first gulf war on NN in realtime of someone living in israel as their neighborhood was hit by a missile. That was a non-journalist (something that didn't exist at the time). Anyway, it was just in general a big discussion board on any topic you wanted to make up.... aside from a.b.p.e. :) Essentially reddit without ranking
    • by havana9 ( 101033 )
      The biggest difference is the usage of the service. I remember using BBS, USENET and mailing lists. YOU had, using a personal computer, dial up to a service, download the messages, read them on an 80x25 screen and then dial up again and upload the messages.

      You didn't have a portable device capable of multimedia content, sending notifications always with you, in an easily digestible format, specially built to hook you and overfill you with advertising.

      The information bubble you were creating there wasn
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2018 @06:19PM (#56369423)

    This is what happens when you destroy the original culture of the internet and replace it with a centralized authoritarian model which by the way is built to feed on narcissism.

    Which happens to be exactly what FB did. And what 2 billion people and counting happily voted for.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    These people are invaders from another country, and the government has every right to send them back to where they came from. Something goddamn Europe should do with the foreign invaders claiming to be 'refugees'. please!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 02, 2018 @06:37PM (#56369497)

      A bunch of squatters set up camp, and invited a bunch more squatters to come join them. The government razes the camp like what is done countless other times across the globe with other squatters. But for some reason because they are Muslim, they somehow need to be left alone???

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by sg_oneill ( 159032 )

      Rohingya are not "refugees from another country". They are native to the Rakine region of Burma , speak their own language unique to the Rakine/Arakan region and have been there for at least 5000 years (The age of the oldest known Rohingya temples in burma).

      Religiously, they are mostly Sufi (Sufi is kind of the 'hippy' wing of Islam, meditation, mysticism etc, peaceful people) but there are christians, budhists and hindus there.

      And the army is hell bent on killing them all.

  • by VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) on Monday April 02, 2018 @06:51PM (#56369569)

    ...is to encourage behaviour from its users that is as divisive as possible. Or what Facebook calls "engagement.' Inciting indignant outrage and creating conflict between users and groups of users keeps them on the platform so that they see more adverts and so the money rolls into Facebook's coffers. Facebook's business model is the opposite of the Silicon Valley mantra "Making the world a better place."

    The famous philosopher of science who gave us the modern scientific method, Karl Popper, had a great insight into intolerance, i.e. that we should be intolerant of intolerance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org] I think we can arguably view Facebook's business model as just one gigantic "meta-troll" that cultivates troll-like behaviour in its users (Not everyone becomes a troll but everyone is exposed to extreme, divisive troll-like episodes).

    If we want to have more constructive public discourse in areas of conflict, it's probably better to ban Facebook in them. And if we want to make the world a better place, how about banning Facebook altogether. Let's be intolerant of a platform that breeds intolerance.

    • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

      If we want to have more constructive public discourse in areas of conflict, it's probably better to ban Facebook in them. And if we want to make the world a better place, how about banning Facebook altogether. Let's be intolerant of a platform that breeds intolerance.

      And your proposed replacement is?

      There are good reasons to not like Facebook, but failing to completely block intolerance is not one of them. Your "solution" to this relatively hard problem is to get rid of a company that has already spent sig

      • May argument is not that Facebook have failed to block intolerance. It's that they are modulators of intolerance. Their business model is predicated on inserting itself into sensitive issues and making things worse. That's what drives user "engagement" and therefore Facebook's advertising revenue. There is no realistic incentive for Facebook to do anything to reduce or prevent intolerance.

        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Their business model is predicated on inserting itself into sensitive issues and making things worse.

          So is the business model of the entire news industry. Folks were complaining about "if it bleeds, it leads" way back in the 1990s. There is no realistic incentive for them to do anything to reduce or prevent the cycle of escalating anger between both sides of political situations, either, other than perhaps "... because if we don't do this, we'll help bring about the end of the world."

          But that should be re

          • Yes, there is an additional argument that news agencies nowadays are chasing reduced revenue because of the web. Headlines are being carefully crafted to attract clicks and the more sensational the headline the more clicks they're likely to get. It also shapes what news is reported and how. But at least professional journalists and their publishers can be held to account for publishing stuff that's not true. Journalists' credibility often rests on the principle of accountability, although we could also argu

      • And your proposed replacement is?

        You: Do you want some tea?
        Me: I'm not thirsty.
        You: How about coffee?
        Me: I'm not thirsty.
        You: There's some lemonade in the fridge.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. In other to be tolerant, you must be intolerant. It's the same with free speech. You have to severely limit it, or you do not have it.

  • by grcumb ( 781340 ) on Monday April 02, 2018 @07:02PM (#56369611) Homepage Journal

    He recalled one incident where Facebook detected that people were trying to spread "sensational messages" through Facebook Messenger to incite violence on both sides of the conflict. He acknowledged that in such instances, it's clear that people are using Facebook "to incite real-world harm." But in this case, at least, the messages were detected and stopped from going through.

    Hang on there, I thought that Messenger was end-to-end encrypted. Someone help me out here—I can see how FB could become aware of these messages (abuse reports), but how could messages in an end-to-end encryption setup be 'detected and stopped from going through'?

    • That's what I was wondering. And it's one thing to filter fake news, it's quite another to stop people's messages to each other from being received. Even if they're fake and horrible, Facebook has no right to stop someone's messages from reaching intended receiptant unless said receiptant has complained or blocked sender. Yes yes I know, Facebook private company blah blah, but so is Verizon, Att and Sprint, and if they suddenly interrupted your phone call saying "you have violated our good behavior polic
    • by johanw ( 1001493 )

      It is only e2e encrypted when you specifically select a secret chat, just like Telegram but unlike WhatsApp. The normal mode of operation for Messenger and Telegram is that the operater can read everything.

  • Facebook spreads hates and help militias

    Zuckerberg gets richer by the day

    As Muslims oppress the Rohingyas

    Burma-Shave

  • This is just one example of the actual impact of enabling the spread of hate to a ready-made audience. Terrorism groups use marketing techniques the same as Apple, and due to the crimes committed as result that marketing must be subject to controls. Moral leadership of a large company requires recognizing these issues and treating them in a way that keeps the core business intact. If they are the core business then the firm itself is illegal, immoral, and deserves destruction. Facebook isn't evil though, an
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ethnic cleansing in Myanmar: oh no!
    Ethnic cleansing in South Africa: ?????

    • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
      You could try to find actual verified evidence of that occurring now, rather than the mass refugee crisis were the white upper class can still leave in hours while the majority must take months to walk to water.
  • Is conveniently ignored, guess it's because the people being cleansed are white.
  • If someone writes a threat on a piece of paper, is it that paper manufacturer who is to blame? Or the store that sold the paper? Of the company that made the pen? No, it is not.
    • by Jzanu ( 668651 )
      No, this is more like setting up armed military operations to suppress a targeted minority and using every possible media platform to direct their violence. In Burma/Myanmar there is no independent media, the military state is a dictatorship that has (again) replaced all elected figures, and Facebook is the main method used near exclusively by by 30 million people for news. Then, it was used to spread misinformation and blatant lies aimed at making directed attacks causing death on large scale.

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