- Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sparked outrage with his positive Tweets about his recent trip to Myanmar.
- Social media platforms – including Facebook and Twitter – may have worsened a humanitarian crisis there.
- Twitter users are responding criticizing Dorsey’s posts for being “tone-deaf.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey recently visited Pyin Oo Lwin, Myanmar, for his birthday, to participate in a 10-day Vipassana silent meditation retreat. Since then, he’s been posting photos and detailed descriptions of his trip on Twitter, encouraging other people to go there if they can.
Now, Dorsey is facing backlash against his supposedly ignorant promotion of Myanmar, where social media platforms – including Twitter and Facebook – allegedly helped fuel a mass genocide, SFGate and other outlets reported.
Myanmar is an absolutely beautiful country. The people are full of joy and the food is amazing. I visited the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, and Bagan. We visited and meditated at many monasteries around the country. pic.twitter.com/wMp3cmkfwi
— jack (@jack) December 9, 2018
“Myanmar is an absolutely beautiful country. The people are full of joy and the food is amazing,” Dorsey wrote in one Tweet. “I woke up at 4 am every day, and we meditated until 9 pm,” read another Tweet in the same thread. Another read, “If you’re willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar.”
A Reuters investigation published in August 2018 reported that Facebook was hiring more Burmese speakers to review hate speech posted in Myanmar. In March, a United Nations investigator had said Facebook was used to incite violence against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group, with posts calling the Rohingya things like “non-human kalar dogs.” (Kalar is a derogatory word for Muslims.)
Read more: The 18 biggest tech scandals of 2018
Reuters reported that hate speech spread on Twitter as well. In August 2017, Rohingya insurgents attacked police stations, setting off military activity that caused 700,000 people to abandon their homes. New Twitter accounts appeared in Myanmar, and the Tweets portrayed the Rohingya as illegal immigrants. One Tweet Reuters spotted read: “There is no Rohingya in Myanmar they are only illegal immigrant and terrorists.”
Twitter has a “Hateful conduct policy,” which prohibits “attacking groups of people on the basis of race, ethnicity or national origin.” However, in August, Reuters reported that such Tweets were still available on the site.
In response to Dorsey’s Tweets about his visit to Myanmar, people are posting critical messages such as, “Leave it to a rich guy to step over bodies while taking pics on his vacation,” and calling Dorsey’s posts “tone-deaf.”
As of yet, Dorsey hasn’t posted any follow-ups.
In November, Reuters reported, Facebook said a human rights report it commissioned showed it had not done enough to prevent its social network from fueling violence. On a Slate podcast in March, Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president of product management, said he and his team “lose some sleep” over their potential role in the humanitarian crisis.