Facebook and Instagram ban Myanmar's military

'We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great.'


Facebook and Instagram have indefinitely banned the Myanmar military (or Tatmadaw) from the platforms. Military-controlled state and media entities are no longer welcome on the platform following this month's coup either. Nor are ads from commercial entities linked to the military.

"Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban," Rafael Frankel, Facebook's director of policy for Asia-Pacific emerging countries, wrote in a blog post. "We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great."

Frankel cited several reasons for the ban, including the "Tatmadaw’s history of exceptionally severe human rights abuses" and the risk that the military will initiate violence in the future. Repeated violations of Facebook and Instagram rules factored into the decision. The military has apparently been attempting to restore "coordinated inauthentic behavior" networks and posting "content that violates our violence and incitement and coordinating harm policies." Facebook has removed that content. Frankel noted the coup increases the chance that "online threats could lead to offline harm."

The move follows previous actions that Facebook has taken against the Tatmadaw and other groups in Myanmar in recent years. It banned 20 people and organizations in 2018 "for their role in severe human rights violations" and took down at least six coordinated inauthentic behavior networks that the military was running.

The blanket ban on the military follows other actions Facebook has carried out to stem the flow of misinformation since the coup. It banned a TV network with links to the Tatmadaw and took down the military's main Facebook page. The company also limited the military's reach on the platform to reduce the spread of misinformation. The Tatmadaw temporarily blocked Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp earlier this month, before limiting internet access more broadly.