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The face of Myanmar's hate machine

Citing anonymous military officials, The New York Times reports the Myanmar military has been using Facebook to push anti-Muslim sentiments that encouraged the country's Buddhist majority to rape and murder the Rohingya people. Facebook admits the military used its platform to kill hundreds of thousands of people in a campaign the UN has called "a textbook example of ethnic cleansing," but Facebook says it was only trying to make the world a better place. Oops.


The Times says as many as 700 people were working on the campaign to obscure the government's brutal genocide and torture. By using sock puppet accounts, military trolls would look for anyone with a large number of followers, like pop stars and a beauty queen, then start spamming the comments with hate speech. The accounts would repeatedly post about "Bengali" Muslim refugees raping Hindu people in Bangladesh, or forcing girls to convert to Islam. The trolls even went so far as to take over a popular pro-military blog, Opposite Eyes, and spin the destruction of rural villages belonging to the Rohingya people.

An example of the propaganda campaign carried out by the Myanmar military to discredit the military genocide of Rohingya Muslims.

If this sounds familiar, that's because it's a similar tactic used by Russia during the 2016 US election. Now I know what you're thinking: Did Myanmar copy Russian trolls? Is Putin creating an army of cyber dicks to skull fuck the internet? PUH-LEASE! Russia is not that capable, nor are they that technologically well endowed! Putin simply extended a hand to Myanmar's military leaders, and said, "Come, comrades, let me show you the ways of my people!"

A number of Myanmar's military officers went to a Russian troll school and studied computer fuckery, psychological warfare, and shitposting in the early 2000s. To keep from freezing their asses off, the officers started their own blogs and got into flame wars with political exiles. After learning how to effectively brainwash people, the officers came home and taught a bunch of ungrateful millennials how to hate people on the Interwebs with their own unique flair.

Much of that hate came from feeding racial and religious tension that already existed. Without getting lost in the weeds, just know that the Buddhist majority haven't liked the Rohingya Muslims for a long time. Much of the country existed without electricity until the early 2000s -- and many people got Facebook before they got toilets. As a result, old fears about the Rohingya Muslims found new life as the "War on Terror" grew to include countries in South Asia. As the new government expanded, the military decided to burn down anything and anyone that stood in their way. By getting out ahead of any nosy journalists, the military would spin the narrative to make it seem like they were simply defending themselves against a bunch of savages. They even found a pretty face to do it for them.

WARNING! This video has gore, and is full of bullshit. Here are emergency cute fuzzies!

The UN is now calling for Myanmar's military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide and crimes against humanity. A fact-finding mission found indiscriminate gang raping of women, assaults on children, and the burning of entire villages in response to "grossly disproportionate" security threats. Now there are reports of trafficking of women and girls in refugee camps, and concerns from human rights groups about so-called "genocide gems." Later this month the UN Security Council is expected to be briefed by the committee that carried out the UN mission. Hopefully Nikki Haley won't bitch about national sovereignty this time.

Because Facebook's business strategy has been to "move fast and break things," Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg have gotten really good at apologizing. When Zuckerberg was grilled before the Senate earlier this year, he told Sen. Patrick Leahy that the reason hate speech was so common on Facebook in Myanmar is because "Hate speech is very language specific," and they simply needed to hire more people who spoke Assholese. They've since banned a few dozen accounts that reached 12 million people, and issued their usual bullshit about how Facebook enables people to connect with racist family members and their ugly baby pictures.

Facebook says it's making the world a safer place from hate speech and violence, but its platform is being used by repressive governments to brainwash people and murder dissidents. Facebook argues that it's not in the business of politics or "censorship," yet they sell advertising to political groups around the world that promote violence and ethnic cleansing. It's only after they've banked their blood money that they issue an apology and shruggy emoji. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

[New York Times]

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Dominic Gwinn

Dominic is a broke journalist in Chicago. You can find him in a dirty bar talking to weirdos, or lying in a gutter taking photos.

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It started with them damn hats. (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

A guest post by "Knitsy McPurlson," which we suspect is not a real name.

Yr Wonkette is not the only website run by brilliant peoples unafraid to poke people with sharp, pointy sticks. Ravelry.com – a website for knitters, crocheters, and other folks interested in textiles and fiber arts – is poking people with knitting needles, which are very sharp indeed.

This past weekend, Ravelry.com's founders showed the world how easy it is to de-platform white nationalists and racists when they banned all "support of Donald Trump and his administration" from their website, concluding they "cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy." Seems like people smart enough to decode a knitting pattern are also smart enough to decode Trump's not-so-hidden message of racism and white nationalism.

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"Bubbie," they'll say, "how could this happen in America? How could there be toddlers sleeping on the ground without blankets, without soap or toothbrushes to clean themselves?"

"I don't know. I wish I had done more. I'm ashamed," I'll say. We will all have to answer for this atrocity. But some of us will have to answer more than others. Not just the archvillains like Stephen Miller and John Kelly, but the people who kept right on doing their jobs, even as those jobs morphed into defending concentration camps.

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