'Support to Electoral Processes and Democracy - STEP Democracy'

Press Release: Political parties and Facebook discuss ways to confront misinformation and hate speech on social media ahead of Myanmar’s 2020 elections

08 November, 2019

Press Release

Yangon, 8 November 2019

For immediate release

Political parties and Facebook discuss ways to confront misinformation and hate speech on social media ahead of Myanmar’s 2020 elections

In preparation for their campaigning for the 2020 Myanmar elections, parliamentary party members met with representatives of Facebook to discuss ways to confront the dissemination of misinformation and hate speech on social media in Myanmar.

Social media will play a crucial role in the context of Myanmar’s upcoming 2020 elections. Political parties and their candidates will use social media to communicate and connect with voters, spread their campaign messages and mobilize support. With around 21 Mio accounts, Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform in Myanmar and political parties are actively using their Facebook pages to share news and information with their followers. The popularity of Facebook in Myanmar will ensure that the platform will also be a crucial source of information for voters in the run-up of the 2020 elections.

Facebook, however, has also been used to spread misinformation, hate speech and in extreme cases even incited physical abuse and violence. Political parties must therefore be equipped with the technical skills to use Facebook effectively and responsibly in their political campaigns.

Against this background, the European Union (EU)-funded STEP Democracy Program held a workshop in Yangon between 6 and 8 November 2019 for parliamentary parties to discuss and learn about social media campaigns in elections.

Facebook’s Politics and Government Outreach Team briefed party representatives about how to best connect with voters while also discussing crucial topics such as digital security, Facebook’s Community Standards as well as reporting mechanisms for hate speech. “It was a great opportunity to discuss directly with Facebook about our challenges as here in Myanmar social media is still a new concept”, a workshop participant stated. Another participant noted that “we gained a lot of new knowledge about social media campaigning, but we will have to work together with Facebook and other stakeholders to tackle the challenge of fake news, hate speech and misinformation”. “At Facebook, we began preparing for Myanmar's 2020 General Election more than a year in advance, using best practices from elections that we have successfully supported around the world. In Myanmar, we are working with partners such as DIPD to ensure that political parties and their representatives can have a better understanding of our tools and how they can use our platforms to safely and responsibly connect with voters,” said Rebecca Oh, Facebook's Politics & Government Outreach representative.

In technical sessions on 7 & 8 November STEP partner Danish Institute of Parties and Democracy (DIPD) in collaboration with Myanma Fifth Estate (MFE) trained the party members on how to develop a social media campaign strategy. Tools for developing social media friendly content were also discussed along with practical strategies to monitor and counter misinformation about a party or candidates.

"With social media being extremely popular amongst young people, STEP Democracy and DIPD will not only work with candidates and campaign managers but also with the parties' youth wings on social media campaigning and its challenges ahead of the 2020 elections," concluded Michael Siegner, Technical Advisor to DIPD.

For more information, please contact 09-791-639-762 (Myanmar language) or 09-4200-999-70 (English).

Background:

The European Union (EU) funded STEP Democracy Program supports inclusive, peaceful and credible electoral processes and aims to enhance the capacity of national stakeholders to strengthen Myanmar’s democratic transition. The 3-day event was organized by STEP partner Danish Institute of Parties and Democracy (DIPD) in collaboration with Myanma Fifth Estate (MFE). For more information, see http://www.stepdemocracy.eu/.