Ban on Social Media Most Likely to be Lifted on Friday

Updated: 04:35 GMT, Mar 15, 2018 | Published: 04:40 GMT, Mar 14, 2018 |
Harin Fernando

The Minister of Telecommunications, Digital Infrastructure and Foreign Employment, speaking, Harin Fernando said that the restriction imposed on accessing social media and messaging platforms will most likely be lifted by this Friday (March 16).

He stated that taking into consideration the various views being expressed with regard to blocking social media and messaging platforms, steps will be taken to remove the restrictions with have been imposed.

Meanwhile he stated that several representatives from Facebook are scheduled to arrive in the country on Thursday (15) for a discussion.

The government shut down social messaging networks including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Viber last Wednesday (7) to control the spread of hate speech promoting violence against minority Muslims.

Initially the government had ordered popular social media networks blocked in areas near the violence, where internet was later completely shut off, and slowed dramatically across the rest of the country.

The order was for Facebook, Instagram, Viber and WhatsApp. Some of those networks appeared to be blocked in Colombo while others worked sporadically and very slowly.

Later the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) announced that several social media websites and messaging platforms have been blocked across the country, considering the situation at the time.

The move has come under criticism from certain sections while others have commended the decision.

Several arrests have been made – including teenagers- so far for spreading false information through social media with the intention of creating communal hatred.

Meanwhile in an emailed statement to CNBC, the social media giant Facebook said: “We have clear rules against hate speech and incitement to violence and work hard to keep it off our platform. We are responding to the situation in Sri Lanka and are in contact with the government and non-governmental organizations to support efforts to identify and remove such content.”

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