0040.1: meta in myanmar

Published 2023-09-29

I had to put this on a different page. It felt too surreal for it to be mixed in with a bunch of technical notes.

meta in myanmar, part 1

Genocide requires coordination. You can't whip people up into a frenzy if you can't reach them. Thanks to heavy data subsidies most people in Myanamr access the internet exclusively through facebook, which has replaced radio and printed news. So the mass genocide has been organized mostly through facebook.

As the violence in Mandalay worsens, the head of Deloitte in Myanmar gets an urgent call. Zaw Htay, the official spokesman of Myanmar's president, needs help reaching Meta. The Deloitte executive works into the night trying to get someone to respond, but never gets through. On the third day of rioting, the government gets tired of waiting and blocks access to Facebook in Mandalay. The block works - the riots died down. And the Deloitte guy's inbox suddenly fills with emails from Meta staffers wanting to know why Facebook has been blocked.

Naturally facebook is a very effective platform for propaganda. Rather than carefully tailoring a message for global appeal, you can release a million messages and let the recommendation algorithm figure out which messages will appeal to which users.

Reading between the lines, it feels like facebook employees are incapable of acknowledging this because their world view revolves around the SV ideal that increasing connectivity is automatically good.

By that point, Meta had been receiving detailed and increasingly desperate warnings about Facebook's role as an accelerant of genocidal propaganda in Myanmar for six years.

After his meeting at Meta, Schissler has lunch with a few Meta employees, and one of them asked Schissler if he thought Facebook could contribute to a genocide in Myanmar, to which Schissler responded, "Absolutely." Afterwards, Schissler tells Frenkel and Kang, one Facebook employee loudly remarks, "He can't be serious. That's just not possible."