Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey ignites a new storm over Myanmar

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Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey

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Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s tweets have triggered an angry backlash for the second time in less than a month.

Dorsey posted a series of tweets over the weekend about a recent visit to Myanmar, calling it “an absolutely beautiful country.”

“The people are full of joy and the food is amazing,” he added, after detailing his experience in a 10-day “Vipassana” retreat, a type of silent meditation popular in many parts of Asia.

Dorsey’s comments sparked a backlash on Twitter (TWTR), with many users criticizing him for ignoring Myanmar’s treatment of its Rohingya ethnic minority. A United Nations fact-finding mission recently accused Myanmar’s military of pursuing a campaign of “genocide” against the Muslim minority since August 2017.

Dorsey also found himself in hot water in India in November — shortly before his Myanmar trip — for posing with a poster that many users considered offensive to a Hindu caste.

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.

Twitter users slammed Dorsey for ignoring the violence against the group, much of which many activists say has been fueled by social media. Anti-Muslim posts on Facebook (FB), a far more popular medium than Twitter 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.

The Twitter CEO has not publicly addressed the backlash, but said Saturday that he would “track responses” to his posts. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment.

Twitter expressed “regret” over last month’s incident in India, and the company’s legal and public policy chief Vijaya Gadde apologized individually to several users.

 

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