Myanmar military chief’s Twitter activity spikes after Facebook ban

Senior General Min Aung Hlaing meets families from the Office of Myanmar Military Attaché to the Russian Federation on Aug. 25, 2018. Photo: Twitter / cincdsmyanmar
Senior General Min Aung Hlaing meets families from the Office of Myanmar Military Attaché to the Russian Federation on Aug. 25, 2018. Photo: Twitter / cincdsmyanmar

The office of Supreme Commander Min Aung Hlaing has accelerated its use of Twitter since being banned from Facebook yesterday over its role in what UN investigators have described as genocide against the Rohingya in Rakhine State.

“International experts, most recently in a report by the UN Human Rights Council-authorized Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar, have found evidence that many of these individuals and organizations committed or enabled serious human rights abuses in the country. And we want to prevent them from using our service to further inflame ethnic and religious tensions,” Facebook announced yesterday after removing the supreme commander and 19 other people and organizations from the platform.

Within the next few hours, another account bearing the military chief’s name appeared on Facebook and was quickly removed.

Today, with Facebook no longer a viable outlet for his office’s messaging, activity on the supreme commander’s official Twitter account jumped to more than three times its daily average.

The Twitter account @cincdsmyanmar was created on Sept. 1, 2017, during the height of the military operations that drove more than 700,000 Rohingya civilians from Myanmar into Bangladesh – the same day Myanmar soldiers and police arrested 10 Rohingya men and boys who would be summarily executed the following day and buried in a mass grave outside the village of Inn Din.

Screenshot via mytwitterbirthday.com
Screenshot via mytwitterbirthday.com

The account has tweeted 493 times in the last 361 days, giving it a daily average of 1.36 tweets. In the days before he was banned from Facebook, Min Aung Hlaing tweeted no more than three times per day and went several days without tweeting at all.

By this afternoon, the supreme commander had tweeted five times in a single day.

The general’s tweets have also stopped including links to Facebook posts since his office’s page no longer exists. Instead, the tweets link directly to news items on the website of the military-run newspaper Myawady, which was also among the pages deleted by Facebook yesterday over its owner’s role in the genocide.

Another account ostensibly belonging to Min Aung Hlaing – @SGMinAungHlaing – has been tweeting news about the supreme commander since it was created on Aug. 2, 2016, linking to both his office’s Facebook page and his personal website. The account tweeted twice on Aug. 26, before the Facebook ban, but it has not tweeted since.

A Twitter spokesperson reached by Coconuts via email declined to comment on whether the company has any plans to take action against accounts linked to the genocide of the Rohingya.

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