Myanmar’s new military government has ordered local telecom firms to temporarily block Facebook until February 7 midnight days after the military seized power within the Southeast Asian country during a military coup.
Several users on Myanmar subreddit reported moments ago that Facebook was already inaccessible on their phones suggesting that internet service providers already began to suits the order which demanded compliance by midnight Wednesday. (It’s about 4.30 am Thursday in Myanmar at the time of writing.)
Myanmar’s new government alleges that Facebook is contributing to instability within the country. Its order has cited a neighborhood of the local telecom law that justifies many actions for the greater advantage of public and state.
NetBlocks which tracks global internet usage reports that MPT a state-owned telecom operator that commands the market has blocked Facebook also as Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp on its network. Telenor one among the four telecom operators within the country said “grave concerns regarding breach of human rights” but has complied with Myanmar’s junta order.
A Facebook spokesperson said that the corporate is aware that access to Facebook is currently disrupted for a few people. The spokesperson added “We urge authorities to revive connectivity in order that people in Myanmar can communicate with their families and friends and access important information.”
The move comes after days of unrest in Myanmar where earlier in the week military took control of the country and declared a state of emergency for a year after detaining civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi and other democratically elected leaders of her ruling National League for Democracy. Following the coup citizens in many parts of Myanmar had reported facing internet and cellular outages for several hours.
Facebook which has become synonymous with the web for citizens in Myanmar has long been blamed for not doing enough to curb the spread of misinformation that prompted real-world violence within the country.
A human rights report in 2018 said that Facebook was wont to foment division and incite offline violence in Myanmar home to over 54 million people. Later within the same year Facebook executives agreed that they hadn’t done enough.
BuzzFeed News reported in the week that Facebook executives have now pledged to require proactive content moderation steps in Myanmar which they termed as Temporary High-Risk Location.