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Myanmar Burning: Hatebook

Human Rights Investigations Lab 2018-2019

Student Investigations Lab Project

The Investigations Lab student team contributed to a Reuters story exposing the weaponization of Facebook in the genocide against the Rohingya in Myanmar. The story was part of the Pulitzer Prize-winning series “Myanmar Burning,” which was honored “for expertly exposing the military units and Buddhist villagers responsible for the systemic expulsion and murder of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar, courageous coverage that landed its reporters in prison.”

Students helped translate and collect more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments, images, and videos attacking the Rohingya or other Muslims in Myanmar. They systematically scoured Facebook and documented incidents of hate speech left on the platform over six years. 

The posts call the Rohingya or other Muslims dogs, maggots and rapists, suggest they be fed to pigs, and urge they be shot or exterminated. The material also includes crudely pornographic anti-Muslim images. The company’s rules specifically prohibit attacking ethnic groups with “violent or dehumanising speech” or comparing them to animals. Facebook also has long had a strict policy against pornographic content (Reuters).

A group of people congregate outside in a large line.
Rohingya refugees in refugee camp in Bangladesh, 2017. Image by Zlatica Hoke for Voice of America.


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Explore the Investigation

Team Acknowledgements

Investigation Lead: Anshu Gupta

Staff Advisors: Félim McMahon and Andrea Lampros

Student Contributors: Ilaf Esuf, John Ortilla, Aditi Pradhan and Jasmine Hahm


A group of people smile on a stage, several people are holding blue folders.

February 8, 2018

2018 Pulitzer Prize: For a distinguished example of reporting on international affairs

Investigations Lab in the News — The Pulitzer Prizes: Staff of Reuters, with notable contributions from Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, Investigations Lab students contributed to

A group of people look at the camera. There is a large letter

August 15, 2018

Hatebook: Inside Facebook’s Myanmar Operation

Investigations Lab in the News — Reuters: Hatebook: Inside Facebook’s Myanmar Operation, reporting with Investigations Lab research.

A young girl in a hijab smiles at the camera. She is holding a notebook and pencil.

May 18, 2017

Documenting hate against my Muslim community

Investigations Lab Reflections — #Verified by the Human Rights Center: Documenting hate against my Muslim community, student Ilaf Esuf reflecting on Investigations Lab research. Left: