LIRNEasia’s research on ICTs and gender in Myanmar was presented at the Myanmar Digital Rights Forum that took place on 18 and 19 January 2019 in Yangon. I was on a panel discussing “Women and the Internet: promises and perils”. The discussion was moderated by Dhyta Caturani, and discussants included Research Fellow Htaike Htaike Aung of MIDO, Ari Katz of IREX and Ma Khin Lay of the Triangle Women’s Support Group. The problems that women faced in accessing the Internet – from affordability to skills – was a recurrent theme in the discussion. Issues on online security and harassment were also widely discussed.
The forum at large was an interesting one – bringing together actors from government, the private sector, and local and international civil society. A panel that caught the attention of many was one on content moderation by Facebook in Myanmar. Discussants included representatives from Facebook, the Ministry of Religious and Cultural Affairs, and civil society. Participants brought up numerous shortcomings of Facebook in moderating hate speech on the platform. Facebook, in turn, spoke about their need to maintain a balance between taking down the content that was reported quickly, and ensuring that the removal of the content was not due to the personal biases of the content moderator. Facebook’s representative spoke about the possibility of using an external moderation board for the purpose of moderating content for which the decision to remove/retain was not clear cut.
It was also heartening to see the rights of persons with disabilities being addressed, with a panel dedicated to the issue. Sign language interpretation was also available throughout the conference, to allow those with hearing disabilities to engage over the two days.
My slides from the event are here.