The Myanmar military, also known as Tatmadaw, blocked access to Facebook on February 4, 2021, three days after launching a violent coup that has seen thousands killed and imprisoned. The military have since blocked other platforms while simultaneously trying to use them first to legitimize their power-grab, and later to attack dissenters. Marking the anniversary, we will be looking at Myanmar’s digital space over the past year, and what is yet to come.
The account of Min Aung Hlaing was banned by Facebook in 2018. Following the coup, the social media company announced that it would ban more Tatmadaw pages from its platform as well as Tatmadaw-linked businesses. As a result, the Tatmadaw and their supporters have had to be more devious in disguising their content. Pro-Tatmadaw propaganda and other harmful content created by pro-Tatmadaw accounts has also surged on TikTok and Telegram. All social media platforms have been criticized for their unclear policies and inconsistent efforts to tackle propaganda, disinformation, and hate speech on their platforms.
The event aims to explore how the Tatmadaw has sought legitimacy on social media and tried to counter dissent. It explores how the Tatmadaw has used digital technology, including social media platforms to gain legitimacy for their power-grab. Speakers will discuss whether Facebook’s ban has been effective in preventing the Tatmadaw from gaining legitimacy, and how the Tatmadaw has tried to prevent access to Facebook in revenge. Speakers will ask whether the Tatmadaw will be able to establish a new harbor on emerging platforms like TikTok and Telegram, and will also discuss suggested approaches to prevent escalation.
This event is part of the Southeast Asian Coalition on Tech Accountability (SEACT) which aims to bring more tech companies that work in the region to take greater accountability over democracy and human rights in Southeast Asia. Launched in November 2021, the coalition currently has 12 members in 8 countries across the region with DigitalReach as the secretariat. This event is jointly organized together with Free Expression Myanmar, the coalition’s member organization in Myanmar.
Aiden Moe* (he/him)
Myanmar Social Media Researcher
Aiden Moe has worked in Myanmar’s civil society, monitoring social media for years. He has participated in events worldwide covering social media rules and their application. Aiden’s focus has been upon holding social media companies accountable for hosting problematic content, such as hate speech, as well as identifying how various actors use digital platforms to spread propaganda, disinformation, and hatred.
Moe Myint Kyaw* (they/them)
Myanmar ICT Practitioner
Moe Myint Kyaw works in Myanmar’s ICT business sector. They have observed political and industry developments over time, including understanding and responding to the military’s many changes since the coup began.
Yin Yadanar Thein (she/her)
Director, Free Expression Myanmar
Yin Yadanar Thein founded and leads a human rights organisation, FEM, focused on free speech and digital rights. FEM co-organises the Myanmar Digital Rights Forum and produces an annual report and global scoring for Myanmar’s digital freedom. Yin has a masters in human rights law and was previously the Myanmar country manager for a human rights INGO.
Khoe Reh (he/him)
Head of Myanmar Public Policy, Meta
Khoe Reh leads the Public Policy work on Myanmar at Meta. Among others, he works on policy and product issues to address safety and integrity risks that impact the people in Myanmar. Prior to joining Meta, Khoe Reh was VP of Government Affairs and Legal advisor to Telenor from the start-ups, where he led early stage shaping of regulatory environment including rapid network roll out nationwide and protecting user privacy. Khoe Reh holds a law degree from City University of Hong Kong.
Ploy Chanprasert (she/her)
Executive Director, DigitalReach
Date & Time
February 4, 2022
2.00 p.m. – 3.30 p.m.
Yangon (GMT +6.30)
2.30 p.m. – 4.00 p.m.
Bangkok, Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Hanoi (GMT +7)
3.30 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.
Singapore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur (GMT +8)
|2.00 p.m. – 2.10 p.m.|
|2.10 p.m. – 3.10 p.m.|
|3.10 p.m. – 3.30 p.m.|