Twitter CEO responds to Myanmar criticism: ‘I need to learn more’
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has admitted he needs to learn more about Myanmar after coming under fire for his recent comments about the country.
Critics said this week that Dorsey’s tweets about his vacation in Myanmar ignored the deadly persecution of the Rohingya ethnic minority in the country. Many activists say social media, primarily Facebook (FB), has helped fuel the violence in Myanmar.
In a series of tweets Tuesday, Dorsey said he is “aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar” and doesn’t “view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as endorsement.”
“I didn’t intend to diminish by not raising the issue, but could have acknowledged that I don’t know enough and need to learn more,” he added.
Dorsey described his trip as “purely personal” so that he could focus on his meditation practice. His original series of tweets about his vacation described Myanmar as “absolutely beautiful.”
In August, an independent United Nations investigation into alleged abuses carried out against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar called for the country’s military leaders to be investigated and prosecuted for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
More than 720,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar for neighboring Bangladesh, where they are living in what has now become the world’s largest refugee camp. The Myanmar military has been accused of mass rape, murder and arson, though the government has denied that its soldiers deliberately attacked unarmed Rohingya.
Anti-Muslim posts on Facebook, a far more popular medium than Twitter (TWTR) in Myanmar, have been linked to at least three violent incidents and widespread fear in the country.
Facebook says it has “invested significantly in technology and local language expertise” after the UN accused it of “substantively” contributing to anti-Rohingya rhetoric.
Myanmar has seen a sharp increase in internet and social media users in recent years as mobile data prices have dropped sharply.
Dorsey said Tuesday that Twitter is “actively working to address emerging issues” including “violent extremism and hateful conduct.”
“We know we can’t do this alone, and continue to welcome conversation with and help from civil society and NGOs within the region,” he added.
The Myanmar incident is the second time in less than a month that Dorsey’s tweets have made him the target of criticism.
In November, during a trip to India, he posed with a poster that many users considered offensive to a Hindu caste.