Myanmar activists say Facebook’s plans to stop violent speech are “nowhere near enough”

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In a letter obtained by The New York Times, Mark Zuckerberg responded to a group of Myanmar activists who criticized Facebook's handling of material intended to incite violence in the country. But the groups continue to say that Facebook is not doing enough.
Last week, Zuckerberg was interviewed by Voice Ezra Klein. During the interview, Zuckerberg was asked about the violence in Myanmar, where researchers say that Facebook drives hate speech against the minority Rohingya population. To illustrate Facebook's work in the country, Zuckerberg described a situation in which Facebook "systems" successfully marked attempts to spread violence.
After the interview was published, Myanmar civil society groups launched an open letter addressed to Zuckerberg, who said that the groups themselves had discovered the messages. The letter also criticized the characterization of the CEO of Facebook's work in Myanmar, saying that the events showed that the company had "an excessive reliance on third parties, the lack of an adequate mechanism for escalation of emergency, a reluctance to involve the actors localities around systemic solutions and a lack of transparency. "
Zuckerberg said the groups have an "important role"
Zuckerberg's new response to the groups' letter apologized for the rebuff and highlighted his "important role" in the country. He said that Facebook was adding dozens of Burmese reviewers, and that the company was bringing more people dedicated to Myanmar issues.
But the groups, in another response, immediately criticized Zuckerberg's letter, saying that "it does not change our core belief that the proposed improvements are not sufficient to ensure that users in Myanmar receive the same standards of care as users in the US. Europe. "
"When things go wrong in Myanmar, the consequences can be really serious, potentially disastrous," the groups write. "You yourself have publicly acknowledged the risk that the platform will abuse real harm."
Here is a copy of the email response from Mark Zuckerberg:

Dear Htaike Htaike, Jes, Victoire, Phyu Phyu and Thant,
I wanted to respond personally to your open letter. Thank you for writing it and I apologize for not being clear enough about the important role your organizations play in helping us understand and respond to problems related to Myanmar, including the September incident that you mentioned.
In making my comments, my intention was to highlight how we are building artificial intelligence to help us better identify abusive, hateful or false content even before it is marked by our community.
These improvements in technology and tools are the kind of solutions that your organizations have asked us to implement and we are committed to doing even more. For example, we implemented improvements in our reporting mechanism in Messenger to make it easier to find and simpler for people to report conversations.
In addition to improving our technology and tools, we have added dozens of other Burmese language reviewers to handle user reports on all of our services. We have also increased the number of people throughout the company on issues related to Myanmar and now we have a special product team that works to better understand the specific local challenges and build the right tools to help keep people safe.
There are other improvements that we have made or are making, and I have ordered my teams to make sure we do everything possible to get their opinion and keep it informed.
We are grateful for your support as we map our ongoing work in Myanmar, and we are committed to working with you to find more ways to respond to these important issues.

And here is the response from the Myanmar groups:

Dear brand,
Thank you for responding to our letter from your personal email account. It means a lot.
We also appreciate your reiteration of the steps that Facebook has taken and intends to take to improve its performance in Myanmar.
This does not change our core belief that the proposed improvements are not sufficient to ensure that Myanmar users receive the same standards of care as EE users. UU Or Europe.
When things go wrong in Myanmar, the consequences can be really serious, potentially disastrous. You yourself have publicly acknowledged the risk that the platform will abuse real harm.
Like many discussions we had with your policy team previously, your email focuses on the entries. We care about performance, progress and positive results.
In a spirit of transparency, we would greatly appreciate it if you could provide us with the following indicators, as of March 2018:
■ How many reports of abuse have you received?
■ What percentage of reported abuse did your team ultimately eliminate due to violations of community standards?
■ How many accounts are there after checking the reports received?
■ What was the average time your review team took to provide a final response to the users of the reports they have raised? What percentage of the reports received took more than 48 hours to receive a review?
■ Do you have an objective for review times? The data from our own monitoring suggest that it may have an internal standard for review; Most of the reported publications are reviewed shortly after 48 hours. Is this accurate?
■ How many false accounts did you identify and delete?
■ How many accounts were subject to a temporary ban? How many did you prohibit from the platform?
The best return comes with the investments and we would also like to ask for more clarifications about this. What is more important, we would like to know:
■ How many speech reviewers from Myanmar did you have, in total, until March 2018? How many do you expect to have by the end of the year? We are especially interested in the reviewers working on the Facebook service and looking for full-time equivalent figures.
■ What mechanisms do you have to stop repeat offenders in Myanmar? We know in fact that false accounts are still a key issue and that people who failed to meet community standards on several occasions continue to have a presence on the platform.
■ What steps have you taken to date to address the problem of duplicate publications that we raised in the report we provided to your team in December 2017?
We attach our December report for your reference, as it delves into the challenges we have been trying to solve with Facebook.


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