After Facebook banned a number of Myanmar military officials in August citing evidence of human rights violations, the head of the country’s army found a new social media home: Russian social network VKontakte, reports Global Voices.
Founded by Pavel Durov, who would later launch the Telegram messaging app, VKontakte is among the most popular sites in Russia and several Eastern European countries, but the site lacks the global reach of Facebook. Myanmar nationalists have reportedly been promoting the site as an alternative after Facebook issued its ban. In other cases around the world, users banned from name-brand social networks for hate speech have often attempted to relocate to lesser-known sites, though they’ve typically lost followers and mainstream attention in doing so.
Facebook removed the accounts after a United Nations report condemned the country’s leadership for violence against the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group within the largely Buddhist nation. Thousands have been killed in ethnic clashes in the country, and more than 700,000 Rohingya people have fled to Bangladesh, the BBC reports. Facebook has been heavily criticized for not doing enough to shut down hate speech against the Rohingya.
“While we were too slow to act, we’re now making progress–with better technology to identify hate speech, improved reporting tools, and more people to review content,” the company said last month in announcing its ban. It’s announced other policies designed to curb hate speech and misinformation in Myanmar.
VKontakte also has policies against hate speech, and the company said in a statement to Fast Company that it’s taken steps to combat violence in Myanmar:
VK is always intolerable to calls for violence, religious discord and ethnic hostility in any country of the world.
We closely monitor situation in Myanmar. We have specifically hired Burmese speaking moderators to monitor publications in communities and users pages. Our moderation team delete publications with calls for violence and ban users who host them. The page of the Buddhist monk Wira Thu and his fan pages were blocked after receiving many complaints from users.
Any person can report illegal, offensive or unreliable content with the help of the “Report” button. We review all reports without any exceptions. VK has one of the biggest moderation teams and we react as fast as we possibly can.