Don’t Share Fake News, Be Mindful: Sri Lankans on Social Media Ban

After Sri Lankan authorities blocked social media services all over the island nation following the Easter Sunday attacks that killed more than 200 people, many credible Sri Lankan expat voices weighed in on the pros and cons of such a censorship move.

While Esther Arshana Rajadurai, who is a policy officer and economist at The McKell Institute, wrote about the need to refrain from sharing any misinformation that will incite divisions, Suwadith, another Twitter user, urged others to stick only to the official news platforms.

Also Read: ‘Panic Mode’: Witness Describes Aftermath of Sri Lanka Blasts

As of now, Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat and Viber, all stand temporarily blocked.

Also Read: Why Sri Lanka does not trust social media platforms

The Sri Lankan government had also banned social media sites in March last year, after an attack on a Buddhist temple triggered anti-Muslim riots across the Kandy area.

There has been a petrol bomb attack on a mosque, and arson attacks on two shops owned by Muslims following the Sunday attacks, reported The Indian Express.

That explains the bid to block social media to prevent communal violence. However, Amantha, who is a journalist and media development strategist, pointed out how despite the social media blocking, it was still possible for people to share racist and extremist content through VPN tech.

Andreas Harsono, who works for Human Rights Watch, says the ban reflects the concern shared by many governments, over the way in which these American social media companies can whip up hysteria and unleash violence.

An interesting observation pointed out by Sanjana Hattotuwa, a senior researcher at the Centre for Policy Alternatives, was that, in contrast to the messages of unity that were pouring in following the New Zealand attacks, the conversation in Sri Lanka wasn’t mirroring that.

You can read his thread in detail here.

To conclude, Burnt Roti Magazine, which is a magazine featuring South Asians, urged readers to not play a guessing game about who the culprits are, and to be mindful about sharing images.

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