Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen’s usually very active Facebook account was deleted on Friday after Facebook’s parent company Meta’s oversight board recommended that he be suspended from the platform for threatening political opponents with violence.
This showdown poses a tough challenge to the social media giant One of the longest reigning autocrats in Asia,
Hun Sen, 70, has ruled Cambodia since 1985 and has maintained power partly by silencing his critics. He is a staunch ally of China, a country whose support is free of American-style warnings on the value of human rights and democratic institutions.
A note on Friday on the account of Mr Hun Sen, who has nearly 14 million followers, said its content was “not available yet, It was not immediately clear whether Meta had suspended the account or Mr. Hun Sen had already deleted it, as he vowed to do in a post late Thursday on Telegram, a social media platform where many of his followers There are few followers.
Cambodian government spokeswoman Fay Siphan told The New York Times on Friday, “He stopped using Facebook, it is his personal right.” “Other Cambodians use it, and it is their right.”
The company-appointed oversight board for Meta said on Thursday recommended A minimum of six months suspension of Mr Hun Sen’s accounts on Facebook and Instagram, which are also owned by Meta. The board also said that one of Mr. Hun Sen’s Facebook videos violated Meta’s rules on “violence and provocation” and should be removed.
In the video, Mr. Hun Sen made a speech in which he responded to allegations of vote-stealing by calling on his political opponents to choose between the legal system and “the bats”.
According to Meta, Mr. Hun Sen said in the speech, “If you say this is freedom of expression, I will also express my freedom by sending people to your place and house.”
Meta previously decided to keep the video online under a policy that allows the platform to post content that violates Facebook’s Community Standards On the grounds that it is newsworthy and in the public interest. But the oversight board said Thursday it was reversing the decision, calling it “erroneous.”
The board said its recommendation to suspend Mr. Hun Sen’s accounts for at least six months was based on the seriousness of the violations and his “history of violating human rights and intimidating political opponents and social media for such propaganda”. justified given their strategic use of Threat.”
Meta later said in a statement that it would remove the offending video to comply with the board’s decision. The company also said that it will respond to the suspension recommendation after analyzing it.
Mr. Hun Sen has spent years cracking down on the news media and political opposition in an effort to tighten his grip on power. In February, he ordered to close One of the country’s last independent news outlets said it did not like the coverage about his son and presumed successor, Lt. Gen. Hun Manet.
Under Mr. Hun Sen, the government is also Pushed for more government surveillance of the InternetRights groups say the move makes it even easier for authorities to monitor and punish online content.
Mr Hun Sen’s large number of followers on Facebook may exaggerate his genuine support. In 2018, one of his most prominent political opponents, Sam Rainsy, Argued in a California court The Prime Minister used so-called click farms to collect millions of fake followers.
Mr. Sam Rainsy, who is in exile, also argued that Mr. Hun Sen had used Facebook to spread false news and death threats against political opponents. court later denied their request Facebook should be forced to release records of ad purchases by Mr. Hun Sen and his associates.
In 2017 an opposition political party led by Mr. Sam Rainsycambodia national rescue party dissolved by the country’s highest court, More recently, Cambodian authorities disqualified other opposition parties from participating in next month’s general election.
At a public event in Cambodia on Friday, Hun Sen said his political rivals outside the country were certainly happy with his decision to leave Facebook.
Speaking at an event for garment workers ahead of the general election, he said, “You have to be aware that if I order the shutdown of Facebook in Cambodia, it will have a profound effect on you.” “But this is not the path that I choose.”