Facebook Is Meddling in Myanmar’s Legally Implemented State of Emergency
Facebook deplatformed the page for the Myanmar military’s TV network on the basis that it spread “misinformation that delegitimizes the outcome of November’s election” despite the social media giant having no right to arbitrate in a foreign country’s domestic political dispute, especially not since the recently announced state of emergency was legally implemented in accordance with Chapter XI of the 2008 Constitution despite some abroad wrongly considering it to be an illegal “coup”.
Facebook’s power trip which first hit epic proportions after the company censored former President Trump last month has now grown to have international dimensions after the social media giant deplatformed the page for the Myanmar military’s (Tatmadaw’s) TV network on the basis that it spread “misinformation that delegitimizes the outcome of November’s election”. This explanation was shared by Facebook’s Director of Public Policy for APAC Emerging Countries Rafael Frankel according to the Myanmar Times which quoted what he said from the Wall Street Journal‘s paywalled article on the topic. He reportedly declared that “We are closely monitoring political events in Myanmar as they unfold and are taking additional steps to stop misinformation and content that could incite further tensions at this time. We are removing content that breaks our rules on violence, hate speech and harmful misinformation. This includes removing misinformation that delegitimizes the outcome of November’s election.”
A few disturbing conclusions can be made from Facebook’s defense of its censorship policy in Myanmar. The first is that the company believes that it has a self-appointed right to arbitrate in a foreign country’s domestic political dispute. Second, it subjectively regards one side’s views towards the situation as “misinformation and content that could incite further tensions at this time.” Third, Facebook doesn’t hold this position towards members of the formerly ruling National League for Democracy (NLD) who are publicly calling for people to defy the legally implemented state of emergency that was carried out in accordance with Chapter XI of the 2008 Constitution. Fourth, despite notionally being a private social media giant, the company is tacitly abiding by its host government’s policy of not recognizing the legality of recent events and promising some sort of punishment for what happened. And fifth, all of this amounts to meddling in the internal affairs of a sovereign state and is intended to shape the course of political developments there.
Taken together, it’s clear that Facebook is functioning as an international political force in its own right, one which is indirectly supporting the strategic objectives of the US government. This observation will only engender even more suspicions of its practices across the world, especially by countries that have been targeted by the US for destabilization such as Russia. It isn’t be far-fetched to imagine the scenario being manufactured whereby Facebook eventually censors most, if not all, publicly financed Russian international media outlets on similar “disinformation” bases if they challenge the Navalny-backed non-systemic “opposition’s” predicted claims after next September’s parliamentary elections that the vote “wasn’t free and fair”. Facebook might arbitrarily decide that Moscow’s official position is “disinformation” just like it holds the same view about the Tatmadaw’s albeit from a different angle (since the latter claimed that there was systemic fraud), thus “justifying” its banning of RT, Sputnik and TASS for example just like the Tatmadaw’s TV channel.
These credible fears have direct implications for Americans’ constitutionally enshrined freedoms of peaceful speech and assembly too. Building off of the precedent established by Facebook’s approach to the Tatmadaw’s claims about election fraud and its constitutionally enshrined right to implement a state of emergency in response, the company might eventually censor average Americans who call for peaceful public protests against any of Biden’s policies despite that being their constitutionally enshrined right if they chose to do so. Once Facebook takes it upon itself to arbitrarily deplatform users just because they exercised their constitutionally enshrined rights like the Tatmadaw did through Chapter XI of the 2008 Constitution which its military TV network explained on that platform, there’s nothing stopping them from doing the same to anyone else from then on out, including dissident Americans. If this trend isn’t brought under control, then the dark scenarios that I discussed in my work last year about Biden’s “dystopian hellhole” will materialize sooner than I feared.