For the broad public increasingly critical of technology companies, the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar has become an influential template for understanding the dangers of social media, past, present, and future, as well as developing solutions. Yet this template is strikingly narrow: it has been limited to content that constructs the victim group, such as through hate speech and misinformation. As a result, extant analysis has excluded other processes that scholarship on genocide has also shown to be significant: practices aimed not at the victims of genocide but those who are supposed to support it. This talk therefore analyzes some of these practices as they involved Facebook in Myanmar, offering new interpretations of publicly available evidence and drawing on observations from work in Myanmar during 2012-15. It concludes by discussing the relevance of these initial findings for ongoing efforts to pursue restitution and accountability and proposes concrete questions that could be taken up in these efforts as well as by scholars and practitioners.
Matt Schissler is Visiting Fellow, Department of Political and Social Change, Australian National University & Doctoral Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Michigan.