Twitter CEO under fire after controversial Myanmar tweets

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Noor Imtiaz
Currently a MS student in Healthcare Biotech at Pakistan’s National University of Science and Technology juggling pure science and creative writing. I’m an avid reader who makes more time for books than Netflix.

There are controversies surrounding the role of social media in instigating the genocide in Myanmar. The role of Facebook and Twitter in providing a platform for severe anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar is evident and controversial. However, Jack Dorsey (CEO Twitter) has seemingly forgotten all about it. He has recently embarked on a mission to be a tourism promoter for Myanmar. Although Dorsey’s tweets would have looked harmless if the place in question was a different one, the case in Myanmar is different. The reaction, therefore, is also different.

The Context:

Myanmar has faced brutality and state-sponsored genocide against a certain ethnicity for years now. International platforms as prestigious as the UN have denounced Myanmar and its tyrannical policies. The UN has officially stated the situation in Myanmar as the “textbook example of ethnic cleansing.” The UN has also stated that the state should investigate top officials in Myanmar. These officials should then be tried for genocide. There are countless allegations and evidence of severe human rights violations in Myanmar. The Muslim Rohingya community has faced violence, murders, kidnappings, rapes, arson and religious constraints at the hands of Myanmar.

When faced with brutality and suppression of religious freedom, certain militants from the Rohingya community attacked several police posts in Myanmar.  As a result, the Myanmar army launched a crackdown on the entire community last year. The crackdown was sponsored by the state of Myanmar. The ensuing violence has killed thousands by now. Moreover, burning lands, kidnappings and rapes have also become a commonality. 700,000 persecuted Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in despair. Their stories, as well as those narrated by human rights activists, have all shed light on the horrific genocidal face of Myanmar.

However, the Myanmar authorities have rejected the UN report. The Myanmar army has cleared its self from all wrongdoings.

Reports have accused Facebook of being incompetent in preventing the violence in Myanmar. This coupled with complacency have landed Facebook in a tough situation. Facebook provided Myanmar state actors a platform and an audience. They used their position to manipulate the general masses to garner support for the genocide. The fiasco could have been prevented, but social media made sure it happened. Facebook has now officially agreed with the report that states Facebook could have done more to prevent this.

The Tweets:

Jack Dorsey visited Myanmar in the recent past. He then proceeded to recommend the controversial place as a tourist destination to his four million followers.

“Myanmar is an absolutely beautiful country. The people are full of joy and the food is amazing. I visited the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. We visited and meditated at many monasteries around the country.”

Jack continues with this:

“For my birthday this year, I did a 10-day silent vipassana meditation, this time in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar. We went into silence on the night of my birthday, the 19th.”

Another tweet reads:

“The highlight of my trip was serving monks and nuns food, and donating sandals and umbrellas. This group of young nuns in Mandalay and their chanting was breathtaking and chilling.”

The Response:

The reactions pouring in the response of the tone-deaf Myanmar tweets are all shocked. However, one of the most well-articulated response comes from Mohammed Jamjoon. Jamjoon has interviewed several Rohingya refugees and is also a correspondent for Al Jazeera. In response on Twitter, he said:

“I’ve interviewed dozens of Rohingya refugees who shared horrific details of atrocities committed against them by Myanmar’s military. It was only in Oct that the head of a UN fact finding mission said genocide was ongoing in Rakhine. This thread left me utterly speechless.”

Andrew Stroehlein is the European media director of Human Rights Watch. He tweeted:

Liam Stack is a New York Times reporter. He says:

“The CEO of Twitter went on vacation to a country that committed a genocide last year that was fuelled by disinformation and hate spread by the government on social media.”

Jack Dorsey has not released an official response on the issue yet.

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