Written by Nathasha De Alwis
14 Mar, 2018 | 8:54 pm
COLOMBO (News 1st) – It is being reported that the ban imposed on popular social media platform Facebook is likely to be lifted in the coming days.
The total global population is just over 7 Billion people and as of the fourth quarter of 2017, Facebook had 2.2 billion monthly active users and that number had gradually increased.
In Sri Lanka, there are over 5 Million Facebook Users.
When users sign up for a service such as Facebook users agree to the terms and conditions of the service provider.
Taking a look at the policies of Facebook under the heading safety, article 7 is as follows,
“You will not post content that: Is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic, incites violence, or contains nudity graphic or gratuitous violence”
Therefore, if someone posts on Facebook, they are going to commit mass murder in a high school, it is important to censor such material and inform the authorities.
When someone posts such content, those who find it abusive and offensive report that content to Facebook, who according to their community standards would review the content.
However, the issue in Sri Lanka if content of this nature is posted in Sinhala proving it difficult for Facebook’s Community Standards to take action.
What is required now, is for representation in Sri Lanka from Facebook to address the concerns raised by the government.
If such representation is set up, whatever the content is reported by Sri Lankan users as abusive and offensive in local languages could be reviewed and removed more efficiently.
The President’s Media Division said representatives of Facebook are set to arrive in the country tonight (March 14) and will hold talks with the Secretary to the President tomorrow (March 15).
Issuing a release, the President’s Media Division said the necessary monitoring and surveillance methods will be implemented to lift the restrictions on Facebook.
Min. of Digital Infrastructure & Foreign Employment, Harin Fernando stated that the delay in re-allowing access to Facebook is not anything politically related and that it is only because they are trying to ensure that such an incident does not recur.
Further, he stated that they are confident that Facebook will give them a clear answer to this by tomorrow (March 15) and by Friday (March 16) everything will be back to normal.
Meanwhile, speaking in Japan yesterday, President Maithripala Sirisena said a new programme will be introduced on social media in the coming weeks.
President Sirisena stated that though it is said in words that this cannot be touched and nothing can be done about it, just a week after we blocked access to these platforms, people from large companies around the world have been coming into the country saying their revenue has dropped drastically.
Further, he stated that the government institutions have made massive profits, however, after Facebook was blocked, the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has made an additional daily profit of 200 million rupees than usual.
“To control such situation I suggested that we come to an agreement with these companies to ensure these bad incidents do not repeat and instead promote only the good. But if it is destroying society, there has to be a sense of control.” – President
Therefore in light of the current situation, he has decided to introduce a new programme within the coming weeks and this is not something that could be done in a matter of hours or a day.
“It is the responsibility of the government and government officials.” -President
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe said new legislation in this regard will be passed in the coming weeks.
Prime Minister stated that the Attorney Department and Ministry of Law and Order are looking at a legal system and that in countries like England, there are laws against hate speech.
“So we have to look at how we can implement that law here. At the moment it is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which is in use in Sri Lanka. Germany also has passed laws to control social media.” – PM Wickremesinghe
Further, he stated that a draft bill in this regard has also been presented to the Senate Council in the Philippines.
According to the Prime Minister, the TRC in Kenya has issued regulations as well and the law we have today only affects print and electronic media.
He states that nowhere in the world does it affect social media. So the Attorney General’s Department is taking measures to draft legislation on this matter as well.
“Our intention is not to ban Facebook entirely, but to just introduce new legislation for it.” – PM Wickremesinghe
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