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Facebook picks a side and bans Myanmar's military from their platforms

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In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the Facebook logo on a screen at Nasdaq in Time Square, New York.
In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the Facebook logo on a screen at Nasdaq in Time Square, New York.   -   Copyright  Richard Drew/AP
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Facebook has announced that it has removed all remaining Myanmar military and military-controlled pages from its sites.

It has also blocked advertising from military-linked businesses, depriving them of their largest communication platform. The ban also includes Instagram.

The decision follows a coup on February 1, where the military prevented elected leaders from convening in parliament and detained them, causing nationwide protests that lead to multiple deaths.

Facebook said they took the measures because of “exceptionally severe human rights abuses and the clear risk of future military-initiated violence in Myanmar.”

The company's Policy Communications Manager, Amy Sawitta Lefevre, said the ban covers the Myanmar air force, navy, Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Border Affairs.

“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban," Facebook said in the statement, adding, "we believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great.”

"We’re continuing to treat the situation in Myanmar as an emergency and we remain focused on the safety of our community, and the people of Myanmar more broadly."

Facebook attempted to curb the military's content on their platform earlier in the month by limiting their content reach and banning their main Facebook page.

According to NetBlocks, Facebook has remained restricted by Myanmar military for most users in the country since early February.

The observatory say several operators in the country have noticed restrictions on Facebook and other social networks during the daytime.

Internet Blackouts

Residents in Myanmar have been experiencing overnight internet blackouts for 11 consecutive nights, leaving residents unable to communicate with each other or update people overseas.

Calls for civil disobedience in Myanmar have been prominent on social media and despite the internet being reinstated during the day, many residents still struggle to access platforms such as Facebook and Instagram.

People across the world are calling for social media and the internet to be restored for the citizens in Myanmar so people can communicate and express their political views, access important information and run their businesses.

Additional sources • AP