According to researchers, armed Myanmar soldiers and police are using TikTok to threaten protesters against last month’s coup, prompting the Chinese video-sharing app to announce it would remove content that incites violence.
Myanmar ICT for Development (MIDO), a digital rights organization, said it had discovered over 800 pro-military videos that threatened protesters during a period of rising bloodshed, with the UN reporting 38 protesters killed on Wednesday alone.
“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said MIDO executive director Htaike Htaike Aung, who noted that there’s “hundreds” of videos of uniformed soldiers and police on the app.
A spokesman for the army and junta did not respond to a request for comment.
One video from late February reviewed by Reuters shows a man in army fatigues aiming an assault rifle at the camera and addressing protesters: “I will shoot in your fucking faces… and I’m using real bullets.”
“I am going to patrol the whole city tonight and I will shoot whoever I see… If you want to become a martyr, I will fulfil your wish.”
Reuters was unable to contact him or the other uniformed men who appear in the TikTok videos or to verify that they are in the armed forces.
TikTok is the latest social media platform to suffer a proliferation of menacing content or hate speech in Myanmar.
U.S. tech giant Facebook has now banned all pages linked to Myanmar’s army – and has itself been banned.
TikTok said in a statement: “We have clear Community Guidelines that state we do not allow content that incites violence or misinformation that causes harm… As it relates to Myanmar, we have been and continue to promptly remove all content that incites violence or spreads misinformation, and are aggressively monitoring to remove any such content that violates our guidelines.”
TikTok’s policies forbid displays of guns unless they are in “safe environments”.