Pro-opposition Maldives broadcaster shuts over threats

Raajje TV said threats to its employees over their reporting on the political crisis in the picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago had forced it to suspend broadcasts. (Courtesy Raajje TV Facebook)
Updated 09 February 2018
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Pro-opposition Maldives broadcaster shuts over threats

MALE, Maldives: A pro-opposition television network in the Maldives shut down Friday following threats to its staff, as the government continued a clampdown on dissent that has sparked international concern.
Raajje TV said threats to its employees over their reporting on the political crisis in the picturesque Indian Ocean archipelago had forced it to suspend broadcasts.
“The broadcaster received threats from government legislators and others,” said opposition lawmaker Eva Abdulla.
The Maldives was plunged into crisis this week when President Abdulla Yameen declared a state of emergency and ordered the arrest of judges who had ordered the release of his political opponents.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged Yameen to lift the state of emergency while UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein has described Yameen’s actions as “an all-out assault on democracy.”
On Thursday a top UN official warned the Security Council that the situation was tense and may deteriorate even further.
Street protests have so far been relatively muted, but opposition and ruling parties have called their supporters onto the streets for rallies after Friday prayers.
Yameen, who has had almost all the political opposition jailed since he came to power in 2013, is resisted mounting international pressure over the crisis.
On Thursday he refused to meet with diplomats from the European Union, Germany and Britain who had traveled to the honeymoon island nation for talks.
China, India and several Western governments have advised their citizens against traveling to the Maldives in the light of the latest unrest.


Facebook says it was ‘too slow’ to fight hate speech in Myanmar

Updated 16 August 2018
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Facebook says it was ‘too slow’ to fight hate speech in Myanmar

YANGON: Facebook has been “too slow” to address hate speech in Myanmar and is acting to remedy the problem by hiring more Burmese speakers and investing in technology to identify problematic content, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
The acknowledgement came a day after a Reuters investigation showed why the company has failed to stem a wave of vitriolic posts about the minority Rohingya.
Some 700,000 Rohingya fled their homes last year after an army crackdown that the United States denounced as ethnic cleansing. The Rohingya now live in teeming refugee camps in Bangladesh.
“The ethnic violence in Myanmar is horrific and we have been too slow to prevent misinformation and hate speech on Facebook,” Facebook said.
The Reuters story revealed the social media giant for years dedicated scant resources to combating hate speech in Myanmar, which is a market it dominates and where there have been repeated eruptions of ethnic violence.
In early 2015, for instance, there were only two people at Facebook who could speak Burmese monitoring problematic posts.
In Thursday’s statement, posted online, Facebook said it was using tools to automatically detect hate speech and hiring more Burmese-language speakers to review posts, following up on a pledge made by founder Mark Zuckerberg to US senators in April.
The company said that it had over 60 “Myanmar language experts” in June and plans to have at least 100 by the end of the year.
Reuters found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments, images and videos denigrating and attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims that were on the social media platform as of last week.
Some of the material, which included pornographic anti-Muslim images, has been up on Facebook for as long as six years.
There are numerous posts that call the Rohingya and other Muslims dogs and rapists, and urge they be exterminated.
Facebook currently doesn’t have a single employee in Myanmar, relying instead on an outsourced, secretive operation in Kuala Lumpur – called Project Honey Badger – to monitor hate speech and other problematic posts, the Reuters investigation showed.
Because Facebook’s systems struggle to interpret Burmese script, the company is heavily dependent on users reporting hate speech in Myanmar.
Researchers and human rights activists say they have been warning Facebook for years about how its platform was being used to spread hatred against the Rohingya and other Muslims in Myanmar.
In its statement on Thursday, Facebook said it had banned a number of Myanmar hate figures and organizations from the platform.