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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2401

Restrictions on Social Media in Sri Lanka to be removed by Friday

Colombo,13 March, (Asiantribune.com):

In Sri Lanka, the social media platforms, including the Facebook, which were blocked last week, would be accessible by Friday morning, says Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando.

Minister Harin Fernando said President Maithripala Sirisena had instructed to lift the ban on social media.

He said that a group of officials from the Facebook Inc. would arrive in Sri Lanka on Thursday to meet Government officials to discuss the situation.

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.”

The ban was imposed after Police found that extremist groups were spreading hate against minority communities on their Facebook pages and other social media sites. They also found that information for mobs to gather to stage attacks in the Kandy District was publicized on these sites

The government shut down social messaging networks including Facebook, WhatsApp, and Viber on 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.

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

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

- Asian Tribune -

 Harin Fernando - Minister for Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure
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