Local telecom operators in Myanmar have started to temporarily block Facebook following an order from the country’s military government. Reddit reports spotted by TechCrunch say people can’t access Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp through MPT, Myanmar’s largest telecom operator — which also happens to be partially state-owned.
In the order where it calls for the shutdown, the government claims Facebook has been contributing to instability in the country. Of the more than 50 million people who live in Myanmar, about 27 million are Facebook users. As advocacy group Access Now points out, those people depend on the website to share information and organize. The shutdown is slated to last until midnight February 7th. The move comes after a week of unrest in Myanmar. On Monday, the military, led by General Min Aung Hlaing, detained the country’s elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, and declared a state of emergency. Suu Ki’s party won the country’s November election in a landslide, taking 346 out of the 476 parliamentary seats that were up for grabs. However, the opposing Union Solidarity and Development Party, which has ties to the military, rejected the results of the election, claiming widespread voter fraud occured. Ahead of the Myanmar’s November election, Facebook announced it had taken down a network of 70 fake accounts and pages operated by members of the military that had posted either positive content about the army or criticism of Suu Kyi and her party.
On Tuesday, Facebook banned an account associated with the Myawaddy TV station, which had been promoting the actions of the army to an audience of more than 33,000 people since at least the start of early 2020. At the time, a Facebook spokesperson said the company was “closely monitoring political events in Myanmar,” as well as working to “stop misinformation and content that could incite further tensions.”