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Myanmar’s state-run enterprises shunned by global tech firms

Written by KrASIA Writers Published on     2 mins read

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Rakuten-owned messaging app Viber on Wednesday said it stopped all advertising in Myanmar.

Major global tech firms have stepped up to reexamine the use of their platforms by military-owned companies including state telco Mytel and television network MRTV, but activists argue that only “stance and action” could prevent the situation from worsening.

Vimeo, a US video streaming site, said on Thursday that it is reviewing a channel owned by the Myanmar Radio and Television (MRTV), according to a Reuters report.

The broadcaster which has served as the government’s mouthpiece since the coup, published its first video on the channel on March 7. As of publication, the account was still active on Vimeo’s platform, with a total of 161 short daily news videos.

While Vimeo did not respond immediately to KrASIA’s request for comment, a spokeswoman told Reuters that the video is under review by its trust and safety team, and that it will only be pulled if it violates the content guidelines or causes harm.

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At least 60 people have been killed, and 2,008 arrested, charged, or sentenced during weeks of violent crackdown following the February 1 coup, according to data published on Wednesday by local human rights group Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP).

On Friday, YouTube took down MRTV together with the four other state-owned TV networks Myawaddy Media, WD Online Broadcasting, MWD Variety, and MWD Myanmar, days after Facebook banned MRTV.

On Wednesday, Rakuten-owned messaging app Viber said it will “stop all advertising in Myanmar” after Reuters reported that the service, as well as Google, is allowing military-backed Mytel to run ads on its platform.

“Viber continues to focus on the most important task—ensuring people in Myanmar continue to communicate freely and securely under the circumstances,” the firm said via Twitter on Wednesday.

Under review

Google told Reuters that the ads were under review, adding that the firm disabled access for some military-linked accounts to Gmail, Google Play store, and publishing service Blogger.

Mytel is 49%-owned by Vietnamese telecom giant Viettel. Star High Public Company, a subsidiary of the military-run Myanmar Economic Corporations holds 28%, while the remaining 23% belongs to a consortium of 11 Myanmar companies.

Local activists told KrASIA previously that although social media and digital communications have become an integral part of the lives of Burmese people, the at times indifferent reactions of global tech firms could further worsen the situation.

“It further emboldens those who commit such crimes against the people of Myanmar. They are complicit through their inaction,” said Justice For Myanmar spokesperson Yadanar Maung.

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