‘Facebook is a toilet’: John Oliver explores Myanmar hate speech

Myanmar is the star of the latest episode of the news satire show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, in which the comedian takes aim at Facebook for its role in spreading anti-Rohingya hate throughout the country.

Facebook has been accused of aggressively expanding to Myanmar, as well as other countries, without setting up the proper safeguards against misinformation and hate speech, allowing violent, anti-Rohingya posts to shape popular opinion while the military has committed systemic atrocities against the Muslim minority group and displacing more than 700,000 of them into Bangladesh.

In a report released last month, UN investigators accused Myanmar military leaders of committing genocide against the Rohingya in Rakhine State and said “Facebook has been a useful instrument for those seeking to spread hate”.

Citing reporting by WIRED and Reuters, Oliver traces Facebook’s failure to monitor hate speech to its lack of Burmese language capabilities, shortage of Burmese-speaking staff, and its internal culture based on the slogan “Move fast and break things”. In the case of its Myanmar expansion, the company left a lot broken for far too long without fixing it.

Oliver concedes that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is “not guilty of genocide in Myanmar (as of this taping)” but add that “by all accounts Facebook did enflame preexisting tensions there”.

Watch the full segment above.

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