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Sri Lanka Bans Facebook Over Allegations Of Failure To Control Hate Speech And Fake News

Sri Lanka Bans Facebook Over Allegations Of Failure To Control Hate Speech And Fake News
Allegations that the content filtering systems of Facebook are not up to the mark have been labelled by yet another country.
This time it is the island country of Sri Lanka. Facebook's social media and messaging services have been banned in the country this week by the government there over its allegations that the posts and comments on the social media platform added fuel to a deadly sectarian violence.
The government claims that the recent attacks on people of Muslim origin in the country was due to the spread of hate speech and fake news. And the government is hoping to put a lid on the flow of such online hate content through the imposition of a ban on the social media platforms and forcing the local internet service providers to prevent admission of Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook in the country.
Critics in the country have been voicing their concerns for a number of years now about nothing or very little was being done by either Facebook or the government to stop the spreading of such hate and harmful posts. It is perceived that the ban followed those persistent protests.
The situation in Sri Lanka is a clear indication of the degree of difficulty that the regulators and administrators would face in the U.S. - the home country of Facebook, to get rid of social media sites of dangerous and harmful content.
It is not possible for the U.S. government to arbitrarily force an internet ban for the social media sites and platform like Facebook, YouTube – a unit of Alphabet, Twitter and the likes as they are protected by the U.S. Constitution which prevents any such government action to muzzle free speech barring instances when such speech threatens to or attempts to incite imminent violence.
In an emailed statement to the media, Facebook said in retain to the developments in Sri Lanka: "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."
People would be deprived of their access to an important tool for communication – Facebook, at a time when there is a crisis, believes Facebook, according to media reports citing information from people with knowledge the company’s attitude towards the Sri Lankan issue. The company further is hopeful that the government would soon lift the ban on the social media platform in the country.
Earlier this week, the newly formed coalition government in Germany said that it could review a regulation that was recently passed which seeks to punish the internet firms that fail to remove hate speech from the medium fast enough.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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