Ooredoo Myanmar and GSMA team up with Facebook for digital literacy

If the internet in Myanmar is basically Facebook, then there is no other way around it.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor

The Myanma outpost of Qatari telco Ooredoo has teamed up with GSMA and Facebook to increase digital literacy in the country, the trio announced on Tuesday.

Inside Ooredoo stores, Myanma first-time internet users will be able to access "internet education materials" in a bid to increase digital literacy.

Approximately 21 million of Myanmar's 54 million people are already using mobile internet connectivity, according to GSMA figures.

"The GSMA is committed to advancing the cause of connectivity in rural areas as it works to accelerate progress against the UN's Sustainable Development Goals," said GSMA head of Connected Society and Connected Women, Claire Sibthorpe.

"Mobile internet connectivity brings a wide range of social and economic benefits, helping to promote digital inclusion and supporting the delivery of essential services and we are pleased to support advancing inclusion to the citizens of Myanmar."

In 2016, the GSMA pointed out how Facebook dominated the internet in Myanmar

"Facebook predominantly shaped respondents' understanding of the internet," the association said. "Many consider Facebook the only entry point for information, and many regard postings as news."

By the end of 2018, Facebook was conceding its platform was used to foment division and incite offline violence following the ethnic cleansing of the Rohinga Muslims in Myanmar.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a September 2018 report [PDF] that Facebook should take all death threats and threats of harm seriously, and develop an "early warning system".

"Before entering any new market, particularly those with volatile ethnic, religious, or other social tensions, Facebook and other social media platforms, including messenger systems, should conduct in-depth human rights impact assessments for their products, policies and operations, based on the national context and take mitigating measures to reduce risks as much as possible," the report concluded.

In April, New Zealand Privacy Commissioner John Edwards did not mince words when he labelled the social network as "morally bankrupt pathological liars who enable genocide (Myanmar)".

Edwards added that the company refuses to "accept any responsibility for any content or harm".

On Tuesday, Ooredoo Myanmar, Facebook and the GSMA said its literacy campaign would help Mynama use the internet responsibly and "be empowered by it".

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