Myanmar polls: Facebook under scrutiny over hate speech

One of two Muslims allowed to run for the governing party in Buddhist-majority Myanmar’s general election on Sunday, Sithu Maung, worries fake news on Facebook could damage his chances.

Within a torrent of racist abuse and misinformation posted about him ahead of the polls are false claims he plans to close Buddhist monastic schools and to advocate for the teaching of Arabic.

“They use race and religion to attack me,” the 33-year-old told the Reuters news agency in the commercial capital of Yangon, where he is standing for a seat won by the governing party in the last election.

“These days people use social media more than ever … and when they see false information 10 times it becomes the truth.”

Social media companies face a global challenge to stop disinformation around elections, including the 2020 US vote. In Myanmar, the stakes for Facebook are particularly high after previous accusations it helped incite genocide.

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