United Nations investigators probing a possible genocide in Myanmar on Tuesday blamed social media giant Facebook for spreading hate speech that led to violence against the Rohingyas.
Myanmar's civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi was last week stripped of a prestigious human rights award by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, which accused her of doing little to halt the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya.
Amnesty International this week said Myanmar was building security installations on top of razed Rohingya villages, casting further doubt on plans to repatriate hundreds of thousands of refugees.
Around 700,000 Rohingya people were forced to leave their homes in the Rakhine state to escape persecution at the hands of Myanmar authorities, an act condemned by the worldwide community as ethnic cleansing.
Lee, who was informed late past year that her access to the country was denied, also expressed serious concern that "the repressive practices of previous military governments were returning as the norm once more" in Myanmar, describing the situation faced by civil society across the country as "increasingly perilous".
Further, speaking to reporters, United Nations investigator Yanghee Lee, described Facebook as a huge part of public, civil and private life in Myanmar, noting it is used by the government to disseminate information to the public.
Myanmar's government on Tuesday rejected two reports presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council that concluded it committed extreme human rights violations, probably amounting to crimes under global law, in its repression of several minority groups. "It was used to convey public messages but we know that the ultra-nationalist Buddhists ... are really inciting a lot of violence and a lot of..." This content goes viral, normalizing hate speech and shaping public perception.
"There is a blurred line between freedom of speech and hate crime", said Lennon Chang, a lecturer in criminology in Monash University.
"I'm afraid that Facebook has now turned into a beast", Lee told reporters.
One of the most prominent nationalist Buddhist monks, Ashin Wirathu, whose profile was removed from Facebook, recently admitted that other social networks such as YouTube and Twitter do not work as well.
Facebook said they take the issue "incredibly seriously" and have worked with experts in the country to develop resources and counter-speech campaigns, including a locally illustrated version of the platform's community standards, and regular training sessions for civil society and local community groups.
"We work with local communities and NGOs to increase awareness of our policies and reporting process, and are always looking for ways to improve people's experience on Facebook", the spokesperson said.