Facebook said it has banned all remaining accounts related to the Myanmar military on Thursday, citing the junta’s use of deadly force against anti-coup demonstrators.
The change, which takes place instantly, refers to the military and organizations operated by the armed forces on both Facebook and Instagram.
It also bans “military-linked commercial entities” from advertising on the platforms.
“Events since the February 1 coup, including deadly violence, have precipitated a need for this ban,” the social media giant said in a statement.
“We believe the risks of allowing the Tatmadaw on Facebook and Instagram are too great,” it added, using the Myanmar name for the country’s armed forces.
The junta has gradually escalated its use of force against a huge and largely nonviolent civil disobedience movement demanding Myanmar’s army leaders relinquish control.
Three anti-coup demonstrators have been killed in protests, while a man patrolling his Yangon neighbourhood against night arrests was also shot dead.
Facebook said its ban was meant to discourage Myanmar’s generals “from abusing our platform”.
The military has used Facebook to boost its arguments that voter fraud marred an election last November after ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s party won in a landslide.
Since taking power, the junta has arrested hundreds of anti-coup demonstrators, ordered regular internet blackouts and blocked social media outlets — like Facebook — in an attempt to quell opposition.
Thursday’s announcement follows Facebook’s earlier decision to kick off a page run by the regime’s “True News” information service after the tech giant accused it of encouraging abuse.
Pages for government departments now run by the junta remain unchanged.
“This ban does not cover government ministries and agencies engaged in the provision of essential public services,” the company said. “This includes the Ministry of Health and Sport, and the Ministry of Education.”
In recent years, hundreds of army-linked pages have been blocked by Facebook after the social media giant came under heavy criticism for its ineffective response to malicious posts in the country.
Junta chief Min Aung Hlaing and other top brass were booted from the platform in 2018, a year after a military-led crackdown forced around 750,000 members of the Rohingya Muslim community to flee into neighbouring Bangladesh.
Facebook admitted that year it had failed to do enough to prevent the incitement of violence in Myanmar.
“We can and should do more,” Facebook executive Alex Warofka said at the time.