World Bulletin / News Desk
Myanmar netizens were in an uproar on Monday after Facebook seemingly banned people from posting the word "kalar," often used as a slur against Muslims, at a time of rising Islamophobia in the country.
Dozens of users in Myanmar reported being temporarily barred from the site recently after posting the controversial term kalar, which is frequently used as an insult for the country's embattled Muslim minority.
Some users said they were even blocked after writing other words that include the same sound in the Burmese alphabet, highlighting the difficulties Facebook has monitoring millions of posts in multiple languages.
Aung Kaung Myat said he had been prevented from liking, posting and sharing content on the site for 24 hours last week for writing about the apparent ban, as had many of his friends.
"It is ridiculous," he said. "I became a victim of it myself when I wrote: 'Facebook is deleting the posts that include the word kalar'."
Yarzar Soe-Oo said he was barred on Friday after posting a jokey quip about eating Indian bean soup ("kalar pal hin") while sitting in a chair ("kalar htaing").
A spokeswoman for Facebook said the company was working to combat hate speech but as "our teams process millions of pieces of reported content each week... we sometimes make mistakes".
A spokesman for the Myanmar government said it had not pushed for a ban.
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