Panzagar seeks to replace hate speech with "flower speech". Images: Panzagar
Facebook now features a new set of stickers or graphics which users can download to counter online hate speech in Myanmar, according to Global Voices on February 22.
“Speak Panzagar” or flower speech or good speech stickers were developedby the Myanmar organization of the same name in response to a noticeable rise in online hate speech in the country.
The disturbing trend was first observed in 2012 when Facebook was swampedwith hate speech and generally inflammatory communication between Buddhist and Muslim users in Myanmar. Many people believe that the spread of racist and discriminatory comments on Facebook contributed to inter-community conflicts that have gripped the nation in recent years.
Myanmar has a predominantly Buddhist population but it has more than 130 ethnic groups. In the past three years, some radical Buddhist groups have accused the Muslim minority of plotting to dominate the country.
The tensions have led to riots that displaced many civilians, including the Rohingya, a Muslim ethnic group which is not recognized by the Myanmar government.
The Panzagar movement started in early 2014 in Myanmar to promote responsible use of the Internet. Some participants of the movement distributed pamphlets in major cities of Myanmar reminding the public that aside from “draconian censorship” the other threat to free speech is “irresponsible and hateful speech.”
Panzagar was founded by the well-known blogger U Nay Phone Latt, who was jailed by the former military regime for posting information about the 2007 pro-democracy protest actions on his blog. He was released in 2012.
Edited version of story provided courtesy of http://globalvoicesonline.org/