Myanmar editor jailed for 2 years over coronavirus error

Myanmar has only 199 confirmed cases of coronavirus and seen six deaths, although the low numbers tested mean experts fear the true figures are far higher. (AP)
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Updated 22 May 2020

Myanmar editor jailed for 2 years over coronavirus error

  • The country has only 199 confirmed cases of coronavirus and seen six deaths

YANGON: A Myanmar news editor has been jailed for two years after his agency reported a coronavirus death that turned out to be false, his lawyer said Friday.
The country has only 199 confirmed cases of coronavirus and seen six deaths, although the low numbers tested mean experts fear the true figures are far higher.
Chief editor Zaw Ye Htet was arrested May 13, the same day his online news agency Dae Pyaw published an erroneous article alleging there had been a death due to the COVID-19 in eastern Karen state.
On May 20, just one week later, he faced trial, an unusually swift process in a country where suspects often languish for months behind bars before being convicted.
“He was sentenced under section 505(b) to two years in jail,” by the court in Karen state, his lawyer Myint Thuzar Maw said Friday.
The notorious Section 505(b) is a vaguely-worded law, often thrown at journalists and activists for making any statement that cause fear or alarm.
“We’ll appeal this unfair decision,” Zaw Ye Htet’s wife Phyu Win said by phone.
It is not clear why the trial took place so quickly.
Karen state borders Thailand and saw more than 16,000 returning Myanmar migrant workers early April after the pandemic caused huge job losses in Thailand and borders started to close.
The state has so far only reported two cases of coronavirus and no deaths.
The government has warned people will be prosecuted for spreading misinformation about the pandemic, but this is the first known case.
It is also drafting new legislation on the control of communicable diseases that would make it even easier to criminalize reporters deemed to be causing public panic.
Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director Phil Robertson branded the move a “recipe for disaster” and warned against denying people the information they need.
Under international law, restrictions to freedom of speech must be carefully spelt out, he added.


Snapchat curbs Trump posts for inciting ‘racial violence’

Updated 03 June 2020

Snapchat curbs Trump posts for inciting ‘racial violence’

  • “We are not currently promoting the president’s content on Snapchat’s Discover platform,” Snapchat said
  • The move came after Twitter took an unprecedented stand by hiding a Trump post it said promoted violence

SAN FRANCISCO: Snapchat on Wednesday stopped promoting posts by US President Donald Trump, saying they incite “racial violence.”
“We are not currently promoting the president’s content on Snapchat’s Discover platform,” Snapchat said in response to an AFP inquiry, referencing the youth-focused social network’s section for recommended content.
“We will not amplify voices who incite racial violence and injustice by giving them free promotion on Discover.”
The move came after Twitter took an unprecedented stand by hiding a Trump post it said promoted violence, thrusting rival Facebook into turmoil for refusing to sanction false or inflammatory posts by the US president.
The decision was made over the weekend, during which Snapchat parent Snap chief executive Evan Spiegel sent a lengthy memo to employees condemning what he saw as a legacy of racial injustice and violence in the US.
“Every minute we are silent in the face of evil and wrongdoing we are acting in support of evildoers,” Spiegel wrote as companies responded to the outrage over the police killing of a black man in Minnesota.
“I am heartbroken and enraged by the treatment of black people and people of color in America.”
Snapchat will not promote accounts in the US that are linked to people who incite racial violence on or off the messaging platform, according Spiegel.
The Discover feature at Snapchat is a curated platform on which the California-based company get to decide what it recommends to users.
Trump’s account remains on the platform, it will just no longer be recommended viewing, according to Snapchat.
“We may continue to allow divisive people to maintain an account on Snapchat, as long as the content that is published on Snapchat is consistent with our community guidelines, but we will not promote that account or content in any way,” Spiegel said in the memo.
“We will make it clear with our actions that there is no grey area when it comes to racism, violence, and injustice — and we will not promote it, nor those who support it, on our platform.”
Snapchat is particularly popular with young Internet users, claiming that about half of the US “generation Z” population tapping into news through its Discover feature.