In response to the coordinated bombings against churches and hotels that claimed the lives of more than 200 people, the Sri Lankan govt has shut down social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, and Youtube.
Govts are looking sideways at social media
The decision, which the Sri Lankan govt said was made over concerns that social media would be used as amplification tools for fake news and hate speech, shows how governments are growing increasingly wary of social media companies’ commitment and ability to stop the circulation of fake news on their platforms.
Social media has become the weapon of choice for hate groups
- Last year, Sri Lanka temporarily banned social media after fake news on social platforms, mainly Facebook, provoked attacks and lynchings against Muslim groups
- UN officials concluded Facebook had played a “determining role” in Myanmar genocide
- A Germany research suggested that Facebook acts as an instigator for anti-refugee attacks
What about freedom of speech and press?
Although masked as a precautionary measure, the shut down is still a pretty authoritarian move that will undermine freedom of speech – however, the fact that such a drastic measure can even be pulled without major outrage shows how far social media has fallen.