Papua New Guinea Is Banning Facebook for One Month: Here’s Why

May 29, 2018 Last Updated: May 29, 2018

The government of Papua New Guinea, a country located in the Pacific, has announced that it will ban Facebook for a month to study the effects that the world’s largest social network is having on its citizens.

The move, meanwhile, will also crack down on “fake users,” according to the Australia Broadcasting Corporation.

Less than 10 percent of the country’s population of 8 million have access to the Internet, let alone Facebook, the BBC reported.

Communication Minister Sam Basil told the Post-Courier: “The time will allow information to be collected to identify users that hide behind fake accounts, users that upload pornographic images, users that post false and misleading information.”

He added: “We can also look at the possibility of creating a new social network site for PNG citizens to use with genuine profiles as well.”

“If need be then we can gather our local applications developers to create a site that is more conducive for Papua New Guineans to communicate within the country and abroad as well,” he said.

 Basil denied allegations that the country was shutting down Facebook to silence dissent. “I don’t think so because MPs are open to criticism,” he said, according to the ABC. “We must make sure the criticism they are providing is factual and they must have alternatives if they are criticising a government policy.”

Opposition MP Bryan Kramer, who has a large following on Facebook, said that’s not the issue.

“It’s clear that the government’s intent is to prosecute those that have been aggressively critical of their policies and be able to monitor and establish who are those that are driving this public discontent against not only the Prime Minister but the government’s policies,” he told the ABC.

Other groups have raised concerns about the move.

“To talk about stopping this for a month while someone, somewhere does an analysis of what we should be able to see sounds pretty authoritarian and pretty worrying,” Transparency International’s chairman Lawrence Stephens was quoted as saying by the ABC.

Facebook has not responded to the move.

Papua New Guinea isn’t the first country to ban Facebook for a period of time. In March, Sri Lanka blocked Facebook and Facebook-owned WhatsApp to respond to posts that called for attacks on Muslims.

 

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