Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey called out for Myanmar tourism tweets

10 Dec 2018237 Views

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Bagan, Myanmar. Image: © Sanchai/Stock.adobe.com

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Twitter boss Jack Dorsey is under fire for a series of tweets about a meditation trip he took to Myanmar.

Myanmar has been at the centre of much international scrutiny over the last number of years. Reports of acts of genocide against the minority Rohingya Muslim population and the role of social media in spreading disinformation and hate speech have been gaining traction.

Facebook, the social network most criticised about the use of its platform to spread hate speech, has taken a number of actions to resolve the extensive issues at hand. Given the atmosphere in the country and the role of social media platforms in creating said environment, many people took issue with a series of tweets recently posted by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

In the thread, Dorsey described attending a 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat in the town of Pyin Oo Lwin and encouraged followers to visit Myanmar, writing, “If you’re willing to travel a bit, go to Myanmar.” According to people familiar with the CEO’s intentions, he was looking to practise the most traditional form of Vipassana in the country.

Dorsey’s sole focus in the thread was his personal experience of the trip, adding that the objective of practising Vipassana meditation is to “hack the deepest layer of the mind and reprogram it”.

UN report revealed atrocities

This year, United Nations investigators determined that the genocide is continuing against the estimated 250,000 to 400,000 Rohingya Muslims remaining in Myanmar, describing the military’s actions as amounting to “the gravest crimes under international law”. At least 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have been driven out of the country. Independent reporting has backed up the UN findings.

Twitter’s social media counterpart, Facebook, was used in Myanmar to coordinate genocidal action and spread propaganda, warning that “jihad attacks” by Muslims were a threat. At the same time, Muslim groups received messages that Buddhist monks were preparing to carry out anti-Muslim protests.

The European media director of Human Rights Watch, Andrew Stroehlein, said: “I’m no expert on meditation, but is it supposed to make you so self-obsessed that you forget to mention you’re in a country where the military has committed mass killings and mass rape, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee, in one of today’s biggest humanitarian disasters?”

As of today (10 December), Dorsey had not responded to criticism of the Twitter thread, but had earlier indicated he would be monitoring replies to his thoughts, adding, “time I take away to do this gives so much back to me and my work”.

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com