Sun, 28 Nov 2021 Today's Paper

FB staff to learn Sinhala insults after Sri Lanka riots

7 June 2018 04:18 pm - 18     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Three months after Sri Lanka was rocked by deadly anti-Muslim riots fuelled by online vitriol, Facebook is training its staff to identify inflammatory content in the country's local languages, AFP reported.

The social network has been seeking penance in Sri Lanka after authorities blocked Facebook in March as incendiary posts by Buddhist hardliners fanned religious violence that left three people dead and reduced hundreds of mosques, homes and businesses to ashes.

Until the week-long ban, appeals to Facebook to act against the contagion of hate speech had been met with deafening silence, at a time when the California-based tech giant was reeling from unprecedented global scrutiny over fake news and user privacy.

"We did make mistakes and we were slow," Facebook spokeswoman Amrit Ahuja told AFP in Colombo.

The dearth of staff fluent in Sinhala - the language spoken by Sri Lanka's largest ethnic group - compounded the issue, with government officials and activists saying the oversight allowed extremist content to flourish undetected on the platform.

Ahuja said Facebook was committed to hiring more Sinhala speakers but declined to say how many were currently employed in Sri Lanka.

"This is the problem we are trying to address with Facebook. They need more Sinhala resources", said the island's telecommunications minister Harin Fernando.

Since the violence broke out in March, two high-level delegations from the company have visited Sri Lanka, where ethnic divisions linger after decades of war, to assure the government of its intent.

Ahuja said Facebook was working with civil society organisations to familiarise its staff with Sinhala slurs and racist epithets.

Complex local nuances have added to the challenge. The word for "brother" in Tamil - also an official language in the country - can be a derogatory term in Sinhala when a slight inflection is used.

Ahuja said Facebook has since taken down "hate figures and organisations" in Sri Lanka including the Bodu Bala Sena, a radical Buddhist outfit that is blamed for attacks against Muslims in recent years.

  Comments - 18

  • Wise Donkey Thursday, 07 June 2018 04:58 PM

    That is the official language of the country and everyone should know it.

    Ganesh Thursday, 07 June 2018 10:12 PM

    Do not know there are two native languages in Sri lanka both are official and a link language English .Why are you intoxicated in this basis after so much of dead and destruction due to people like racial bullsheeds

    mnsmart Thursday, 07 June 2018 05:38 PM

    Good move,

    Ceylon Thursday, 07 June 2018 05:55 PM

    Three main languagess speak in lanka.once main language was wedda languge.after sinhalese invaders occupied the island,their language esrablished.then tamils came from india too.then europeans.with new comers new languagess came with them.

    Just do it Thursday, 07 June 2018 06:03 PM

    What the hell? Just hire couple of well qualified Sinhalese. Do that for every language in the world since Facebook spans across the world.. I think there are already Sinhalese working for Facebook for sure. .

    mohan Thursday, 07 June 2018 07:03 PM

    staff ? machine will learn very fast ,

    Ceylon Thursday, 07 June 2018 10:24 PM

    Fc also can.make mistakes as all others.but its shame that why this stuoid negligence taken place.its simple to translate any language in world to other languages by internet.without offering stupid excussess fc make the correctiins quickly without creating more damage to its allready suffering image.

    lkboy Thursday, 07 June 2018 07:23 PM

    They will also need to learn tamil which is the other language used in this country.

    Cruz Saturday, 09 June 2018 01:54 PM

    Tamil is also spoken in India. They must be already having Tamil speaking people employed at FB

    Dee Thursday, 07 June 2018 07:45 PM

    Just can't imagine how this still goes on! After all the harm it has done to families and values.

    Suresh Thursday, 07 June 2018 08:30 PM

    Go to parliament one day - they will have a full vocabulary

    Kailainathan Friday, 08 June 2018 06:20 AM

    (1)The Srilankan government of good governance blocked the social websites !! Saying that people use these sites to promote violence !! We had violence against minority's in Srilanka !! Since 1956 when it was known as Ceylon !! Those days we did not have social web sites !! Phones !! Mobiles !! Televisions !! Radios in every homes !! But still we had violence against minority's !! As long as the politicians,political leaders,successive governments,its authorities,protect the wrong doers it will continue !!(2)Not a single Srilanka's elected leader willing to solve the ethnic issue !! Their power is based on anti ethnic anti Tamil !! The goverment ,its authority's,countries most of the Sinhala/English media and politicians who uphold the same !! Impunity !! Protection !! Promotion !! Awards !! Praising as patriots !! Heroes !! For the wrong doers !! since long !! That's the reason for the exsisting problem in the country !!

    Delays Friday, 08 June 2018 06:52 AM

    And also why is there no punishment meted out yet ?

    Suneth buddike Friday, 08 June 2018 07:33 AM

    Mad idias of foolish facebooker. Get lost !!!! Sri lanka is the Buddha's country

    Funny Friday, 08 June 2018 10:51 AM

    Its so funny to see people like you with a very narrow mind. Grow up brother guess the way you bought up is the problem..

    arshad Friday, 08 June 2018 11:08 AM

    sri lanka is not only belongs to one ethnicity, its belongs to tamil, muslims , and sinhalese

    Yeti Friday, 08 June 2018 05:45 PM

    The cartoon shows the students on their way to SL Parliament for tuition!!!

    Sajith perera Monday, 21 January 2019 06:35 PM

    Good move

Add comment

Comments will be edited (grammar, spelling and slang) and authorized at the discretion of Daily Mirror online. The website also has the right not to publish selected comments.

Reply To:

Name - Reply Comment

Focus on Laggala Gem mining big shots bigger than the law

The truth is now being uncovered regarding an illegal mining racket in state

How and why the TNA was formed twenty years ago

The Tamil National Alliance (TNA) is now twenty years of age. The premier pol

India lays emphasis on culture diplomacy with Sri Lanka

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to inaugurate the Kushinagar Inter

Bittersweet memories of a ‘City that never slept’

At the heart of Eastern Province lies a now abandoned ghost town punctuated w