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Facebook ordered to release anti-Rohingya posts in connection with a genocide case

A US judge has ordered Facebook to restore posts that were removed due to their role in inciting government-sponsored violence against Myanmar's Rohingya minority.

Judge Zia Faruqui of the District of Columbia's District Court criticized the company on Wednesday for refusing to provide the records to countries pursuing a case against Myanmar at the International Court of Justice.

In accordance with US privacy law, Facebook had resisted making the content publicly available.

Although the deleted posts were not covered by the protections afforded to users' personal communications, the judge ruled that they would not be.

The judge wrote in his ruling that "Facebook taking up the mantle of privacy rights is rich with irony," because "locking away the requested content would be throwing away the opportunity to understand how disinformation led to genocide." Faruqui also wrote that "Facebook taking up the mantle of privacy rights is rich with irony."

In 2017, more than 740,000 members of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslim minority were forced to flee the country as a result of a military crackdown on the persecuted minority. Facebook has been accused of being slow to respond to abusive posts depicting Rohingya Muslims in dehumanizing terms, contributing to the drumming up of support for the crackdown.

United Nations investigators called for an international investigation and prosecution of Myanmar's army chief and five other top military commanders in August 2018, accusing them of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes, among other things.

Facebook banned the top generals from its platform on the same day they were banned from Twitter.

The Gambia has taken Myanmar, which has a majority Buddhist population, to the United Nations' highest court in The Hague, accusing it of violating the 1948 UN genocide convention.

The Gambia's government, in a statement titled "The Gambia beats Facebook," hailed the decision as a victory for the country's legal battle against Myanmar.

Facebook said on Thursday that it was reviewing the judge's decision and that it had made voluntary disclosures to the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar (IIMM), which is collecting and analyzing evidence of serious international crimes in the Southeast Asian country.

"We're currently reviewing our decision. We continue to be appalled by the atrocities committed against the Rohingya people in Myanmar and support the pursuit of justice for those responsible for international crimes against humanity "According to a Facebook spokesperson in a statement.

Our commitment is to provide relevant information to authorities. Over the past year, we've made voluntary, legally permissible disclosures to the IIMM, and we'll keep doing so as the case against Myanmar moves forward.

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