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Myanmar temporarily bans the Facebook platform


 Myanmar temporarily bans the Facebook platform

Local telecommunications companies in Myanmar began to block the Facebook platform temporarily until midnight on the seventh of February at the order of the country's military government, days after the army seized power in the Southeast Asian country in a military coup.

Reports indicate that people cannot access Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp through MPT, Myanmar's largest telecom operator - which also happens to be partially state-owned.

The government claims that the social platform contributes to instability in the country, and among the more than 50 million people living in Myanmar, there are about 27 million Facebook users.

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As the Access Now group points out, these people depend on the platform to share and organize information.

The ban is set to continue until midnight on the seventh of February, and a Facebook spokesperson said: We are aware that access to Facebook is currently disabled for some people.

He added: We urge the authorities to restore contact so that people in Myanmar can communicate with their families and friends and access important information.

The move comes after a week of unrest in Myanmar, where the army led by General (Min Aung Hlaing) has detained the country's elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and declared a state of emergency.

Suu Kyi's party won the country’s elections in November by an overwhelming majority, winning 346 of the 476 parliamentary seats open for election.

However, the opposition Union Solidarity and Development Party, which has links to the military, rejected the election results, claiming widespread fraud.

Facebook has banned an account linked to Myawaddy TV, which has been promoting the military's actions to an audience of more than 33,000 people since at least the start of 2020.

A Facebook spokesman said: The company was closely monitoring political events in Myanmar, in addition to working to stop misinformation and content that could lead to more tensions.

Facebook has a complicated history with Myanmar, as the company has long been blamed for not doing enough to curb the spread of disinformation in the country, and a 2018 report found that the company helped amplify calls to violence.