Is Facebook exempt from the new US arms embargo imposed on Cambodia?
Earlier this month, the United States announced a new embargo:
The United States government yesterday imposed an arms embargo on Cambodia, citing long-standing concerns over human rights, corruption and China’s growing influence in the country. The move “will restrict” access to “dual-use items”, “less sensitive military items” and “defense items and defense services” by Cambodian military and intelligence agencies, according to a Commerce Department statement. .
The Diplomat’s analysis of the embargo adds spice to the soup:
That doesn’t mean much – the United States is not currently an arms supplier to Cambodia… one of the reasons Hun Sen and his government have moved closer to China is precisely because of the pressure. Western democracy and rights issues have long been seen as an attempt to undermine the power of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
Is it true that the United States is not currently a supplier of weapons, even dual-use technology (which I have already spoken about here in the context of Ronald Reagan and the genocide)? Does Facebook matter, given its use by the military there to support the ruling party?
US and human rights groups on Monday condemned the sentencing of a Cambodian teenager who was sentenced to eight months in prison for messages he shared on Facebook and Telegram insulting ruling party officials . The conviction comes amid a widespread crackdown in Cambodia against the opposition, civil society and the media that began in the run-up to the 2018 elections.
Further investigation is certainly needed, especially given the unique role Facebook plays in this country.
In 2018, the Facebook team had a puzzle on their hands. Cambodian users accounted for almost 50% of all global messenger voice traffic, but no one in the company knew why…. While the Facebook employee imagined the behavior was linked to a low literacy rate, Cambodia’s literacy rate is around 80%, according to the most recent data from the World Bank. […] The integration of voicemail in Cambodia raises questions about moderation of content and the spread of disinformation. Audio is notoriously difficult to analyze, lacks contextual clues, and it’s hard to tell when it’s been manipulated compared to video. […] Evidence of audio messages has appeared in some high-profile cases, such as the damage to the reputation of Luon Sovath, an activist Buddhist monk who fled Cambodia. He alleged that the incriminating Messenger tapes were fabricated by Cambodian authorities. Asked about resources for this type of moderation in Cambodia, a representative of Facebook, now known as Meta, described only general measures.
Is it possible that such communication failure of Facebook staff is related to their low literacy level? Maybe the World Bank will let us know.
In the meantime, it is questionable whether an embargo including Facebook would send the Cambodian government a more meaningful message. Of course, it would have to be in text and therefore on a platform other than that of Facebook.