Twitter CEO defends controversial Myanmar tweets, Latest World News - The New Paper

Twitter CEO defends controversial Myanmar tweets

This article is more than 12 months old

YANGON: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey yesterday defended a series of tweets about his recent meditation retreat in Myanmar that were pilloried on his own platform for failing to mention the persecution of Rohingya Muslims.

Mr Dorsey's gushing thread on Sunday came after a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat near Mandalay in which he praised the country's food, beauty and its people, who he said were "full of joy".

The comments drew heat online for not mentioning atrocities committed against Myanmar's Rohingya minority during a military crackdown last year that drove more than 720,000 people into Bangladesh camps.

Critics piled into the tech mogul for being "tone deaf" at a time when the UN has said Myanmar's generals should be investigated for genocide.

Mr Dorsey defended his actions but conceded he could have handled the situation better. "I'm aware of the human rights atrocities and suffering in Myanmar," he said.

"I don't view visiting, practicing, or talking with the people, as endorsement. I didn't intend to diminish by not raising the issue, but could have acknowledged that I don't know enough and need to learn more."

Twitter is not as popular in Myanmar as Facebook, which has been accused of not doing enough to control hate speech that fuelled anti-Rohingya and anti-Muslim sentiment.

But the hate speech also spilled over onto the micro-messaging site, which is facing similar allegations over hosting toxic content in other countries where it is more broadly used.

Mr Dorsey batted away speculation that there was a business twist to the visit, saying he had no conversations with the government, and described the platform as a way to raise awareness about human rights issues.

"Twitter is a way for people to share news and information about events in Myanmar as well as to bear witness to the plight of the Rohingya and other peoples and communities," he said.

It is not the first time Mr Dorsey has stirred outrage online. On a trip to India last month, he was accused of inciting hatred against the highest caste in Hinduism after he was photographed holding a poster declaring "smash Brahminical patriarchy". - AFP