Sri Lanka blocks social media after Easter Sunday bombings

ABC News | 4/21/2019 | Staff
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Sri Lankan authorities flicked the off switch on most social media after on churches and hotels killed hundreds of people, a dramatic reaction that reflects accumulated distrust in the capability of American internet companies to control harmful content.

The block on social media including Facebook and its WhatsApp and Instagram services was announced by the governments official news portal, which cited the spread of false news reports online. The NetBlocks observatory said it detected an intentional blackout of the popular platforms as well as YouTube, Snapchat and Viber. Twitter appeared unaffected.

Officials - Spread - Content - Sri - Lanka

Officials likely feared that the spread of inflammatory content could provoke more bloodshed in Sri Lanka, a Buddhist-majority island nation that has large Hindu, Muslim and Christian minorities and a long history of ethnic and sectarian conflict. At least 290 people were killed in the bombings.

Ivan Sigal, head of the internet and journalism advocacy organization Global Voices, said the countrys rapid action was a telling moment.

Years - Platforms - Assistance - Threat - Twitter

A few years ago wed be using these platforms to help each other and coordinating assistance. Now we view them as a threat, he wrote on Twitter.

If I were Facebook and WhatsApp Id take a moment to ask myself where Id gone wrong, he said. Cannot think of a clearer signal for lack of platform trust.

Time - Sri - Lanka - Media - Government

It wasnt the first time Sri Lanka has blocked social media. The government imposed a weeklong ban in March 2018 because of concerns that WhatsApp and other platforms were being used to fan anti-Muslim violence in the countrys central region.

Facebook is increasingly in the crosshairs of regulators, rights groups and the public as it tries to balance what CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called giving people a voice and demands for censorship of hate speech and other harmful content posted on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Criticism

It faced intense criticism after...
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